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* Section 

LAI 151 


MAY 9 1919 




Rev. F. E. KEAY, M.A. 

[Thesis approved for the Degree of M.A. in the University of London , 
and published with the permission of the Senate .] 









Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2016 


The history of the ancient education of India is to a large 
extent an unexplored tract. Except for a short sketch in 
Laurie’s Historical Survey of Pre-Christian Education, and 
outlines of the subject in cyclopaedias, or references scattered 
in various books, hardly anything has been written on the 
subject. With regard to Muhammadan Education in India, 
however, Mr. Narendra Nath Law’s recently published book 
on the Promotion of Lear/ting by Mu ham madans has brought 
together some most useful evidence. 

In attempting to write about the ancient education of 
India, one of the greatest difficulties has been to ascertain all 
the available material. The literature of India is very bulky, 
and only a small portion of it has been translated into English. 
References in it to education are not always numerous, and 
are scattered here and there amongst a vast amount of other 
material. I am well aware, therefore, that there may be more 
material available than I have yet been able to discover. The 
present attempt must be looked upon largely as a pioneer 
effort, but I hope that it may stimulate others also who are 
interested in Indian education to take up the work of research. 

Throughout the long centuries of India’s history educational 
development was taking place. It began away back in the 
times when the hymns of the Vedas were being composed, 
and has gone on until the present time. The first beginnings 
were in connection with the sacrificial ritual, and this system 



of Brahmanic education has had a continuous history from 
that time till now. It is to this that our attention will first be 
given. The introduction of Buddhism and its growth into 
a widespread religion under the patronage and favour of 
powerful monarchs brought a new influence into Indian 
education ; for although Buddhism was closely connected in 
its origin with the more ancient forms of religion, it was not 
under Brahman control. The Muhammadan conquest brought 
a foreign influence into Indian social life, and the establish- 
ment of a form of education which had no connection with 
that of the Brahmans. The education of the young nobles, 
corresponding to the knightly education of the Middle Ages of 
Europe, and the education of the craftsmen and of women 
also deserve our attention, as well as the system of popular 
education which grew up at some time in India and was in 
full swing when education came under the influence and 
control of the British Government. 

In 1835 a momentous decision was made by the Govern- 
ment of Lord William Bentinck, acting on the advice of 
Macaulay’s famous minute, to make English the medium of 
instruction in higher education in India. This largely 
accelerated the permeation of Indian life and ideas by 
Western thought, and has been one of the most powerful 
factors in producing that intellectual, social, political, and 
religious ferment which is going on in India to-day. Educa- 
tion in India has come under Western control and is being 
influenced by Western ideas. The spread of education in 
India is one of the most striking features of its present 
development, and already some of its most noble sons have 
believed that the time has come when it should be extended 
to all. Grave responsibilities rest upon those who have the 
control of Indian education to see that its development shall 
be on such lines as may be most suitable to the country, and 
likely to bring out the very best that is in the various races 



that inhabit the Indian Empire. Any attempt to foist even 
the most satisfactory of European systems of education upon 
India would be doomed to failure, and even if successful 
would be a great disaster. India may learn and is learning 
from the West many useful lessons in all subjects, and in 
educational thought and practice no less than in others ; but 
if a system is to be evolved for India which shall be truly 
Indian, it must, while assimilating much that is Western, also 
gather up what is best and most useful from its own ancient 
systems and weave them into the complex whole that is being 
built up. For this reason the study of ancient Indian 
education is most important, and deserving of far more 
attention than it has hitherto received. And it may be that 
in the investigation certain points will be brought out that 
may not be without interest even for Western educators. 

Amongst those who have given advice or suggestions I 
have specially to thank the Rev. Dr. H. U. Weitbrecht- 
Stanton, who read through the first draft of the chapter on 
Muhammadan Education, and made some valuable criticisms ; 
and also Dr. J. N. Farquhar, to whom I am most deeply 
indebted for his interest and readiness to give counsel with 
regard to many points about which I have consulted him 
throughout. I am specially indebted to him for many 
suggestions with regard to the chapter on Brahmanic educa- 
tion, and for reading the whole work in manuscript with great 
care, and suggesting many improvements. 





Brahmanic Education . . . . ti 


The Education of some Special Classes . 58 


Buddhist Education 87 


Muhammadan Education . . . . .114 


Popular Elementary Education . . -144 


Some General Conclusions . . . 169 


INDEX 187 



Within the boundaries of the modern Indian Empire there 
dwells a population of over three hundred millions, derived 
from different sources and speaking many different languages. 
Among the races four main types have been distinguished, 
namely, Dravidian, Aryan, Scythian, and Mongolian, and 
besides these, other races, in smaller numbers, have been 
introduced into India at different periods of the history, such 
as Parsees, Arabs, Turks, Afghans, Moguls, and, at a later 
date, some of the European races like the Portuguese and the 
English. The main types have not been kept distinct, but 
there has been a fusion of races on a large scale. The Dra- 
vidians represent the earliest known inhabitants of India ; but 
it is the Aryan race that has had the greatest influence in 
controlling its destiny. 

The Aryans entered India by the defiles of the north-west 
at some unknown date before 1000 b.c. There were probably 
several waves of invasion, and each tribe pushed its pre- 
decessor farther east or south. The influence of this race is 
not, however, to be judged by its numbers, or the extent of 
territory which was occupied. Not only did Aryan princes 
establish dynasties in many parts of India, but it was the 
Aryans, and especially the priestly class, the Brahmans, who 
moulded the religion, philosophy, science, and art, as well as 
the social organization which is spread all over India. At the 
time when they entered the Panjab they were divided into 



many tribes or clans governed by chieftains. The father had 
great power as head of the family. There were different 
classes amongst the Aryans, but these had not yet hardened 
into castes. These classes were the nobles or chieftains and 
their families, the priestly families, and the mass of the people 
who were chiefly employed in agriculture and cattle-rearing. 
The Dravidians were their common foes, but those captured 
in war became domestic slaves. The religion of the Aryans 
was a form of nature worship. The vault of heaven, the 
dawn, the winds, the lightning are considered the activities 
of personal gods to whom sacrifice and praise are offered. 
Worship is carried on in the open without temples or idols. 
Indra, Agni, and Soma are the deities to whom hymns are 
most often addressed. 

Our knowledge of this period is derived from the Samhitas 
(collections of verses) of the Vedas, which form the oldest 
strata of Indian literature. The Rigveda was the earliest of 
these collections. It contains 1017 hymns divided into ten 
different books or mandalas. The composition of these 
hymns took place at some time previous to 1000 b.c., while 
the Aryan race still occupied territories on both sides of the 
Indus. 1 Of the collection of ten books, it is considered by 
scholars that Books ii. to vii. formed the original nucleus.' 2 
Each of these seven is ascribed to a different seer (rishi), and 
was probably the work of himself and his descendants. They 
were thus family collections handed down from generation to 
generation, and no doubt guarded jealously as a family in- 
heritance. It had become the custom for chieftains or nobles 
to appoint purohitas, or domestic priests, to bring them pros- 
perity by sacrifice, and it was probably in such priestly families 
of high standing that the collections of hymns were formed 
and preserved, and the competition among these families to 

' Macdonell, Sans. Lit., p. 40. 

- Ibid., p. 43. 


J 3 

possess the best hymns led to the formation of a dignified and 
expressive literary dialect. As the influence of the priests 
increased, the ritual of the sacrifice became more complex. 
The technical lore of language and of hymns was handed 
down from father to son, and this was no doubt the beginning 
of Brahmanic education. In a hymn 1 belonging to one of 
these early books there is a reference to what was probably 
the earliest form of the Brahmanic school in India. It is a 
poem which compares the meeting together of the Brahmans 
with the gathering of frogs in the rainy season : — 

* Each of these twain receives the other kindly, while they are revelling in 
the flow of waters. 

When the frog moistened by the rain springs forward, and Green and 
Spotty both combine their voices. 

When one of these repeats the other’s language, as he who learns the 
lesson of the teacher, 

Your every limb seems to be growing larger, as ye converse with 
eloquence on the waters.’ 

Each experienced priest probably taught his sons or 
nephews the ritual lore and hymns which were traditional in 
the family, by letting them repeat them over and over again 
after him until all had been committed to memory, and 
probably each family guarded the secrecy of its own sacred 

At some time and in some way unknown these family 
collections came to be amalgamated and taught together. 
This may have been due to the action of some powerful 
chieftain who wished to gather for his own benefit all the 
sacrificial literature. The first and eighth books were then 
added at some time, and also the ninth, which consists of 
hymns used for the Soma sacrifice. The tenth book was 
added last of all, and although it contains some old material, 
some of it was written later. One hymn 2 in it refers to 

1 Rigveda, vii. 1 03, Griffith’s trans. 

3 Ibid . , x. 90. 



caste, and it is evident that by this time social distinctions 
had increased and society become more complex. In a 
hymn 1 of this last book there is reference to the learned 
Brahmans meeting together for debate : — 

‘ All friends are joyful in the friend who cometh in triumph, having con- 
quered in assembly. 

He is their blame averter, food provider ; prepared is he and fit for deed 
of vigour. 

One plies his constant task reciting verses ; one sings the holy psalm in 
Sakvari measures. 

One more, the Brahman, tells the lore of being, and one lays down the 
rules of sacrificing.’ 

It is possible that the success in debate may refer to the 
passing of some test required before a young Brahman was 
considered eligible to take part in the sacrificial ritual . 2 

The gathering together of all the hymns into one collection 
took place probably before 1000 b.c. When this was done it 
is likely that the schools where the priestly lore was learnt 
were no longer always family schools, though in many cases 
no doubt the boy was pupil to his own father. This indeed 
was often so in much later times . 3 

The word Veda really means * knowledge from the root 
vid, ‘ to know ’, and so was used to designate the sacred lore 
or collection of sacred literature. The Rigveda means the 
‘Veda of hymns’, from rich, ‘a laudatory stanza’. This 
collection of sacred poems was probably made not so much 
to preserve them as literature, but because they were needed 
for sacrificial use. 

There were three functions which the priest might perform 
in the ritual, and to those who performed them different names 
were given. The hotri was the leading priest, and while the 
sacrifice was being made he recited poems or hymns of praise 

1 Rigveda , x. 71. 

2 Compare the ‘ Responsio ’ of the Middle Ages in Europe. 

3 Cf. eg. Chhand. Up., v. 3, 5 ; Brih. Ar. Up., vi. 2, 4. 



in honour of the particular god he was worshipping (Indra, 
Agni, etc.). Another part of the ritual was concerned with 
the soma sacrifice. Soma 1 was really a juice pressed out from 
a certain plant, which on account of its exhilarating and in- 
vigorating action came to be regarded as a divine drink 
which bestowed everlasting life. It was afterwards hypostatized 
and regarded as a god, and a special ritual grew up in connec- 
tion with which hymns were sung. The priest who sang these 
satnans was called an udgdtri. Another priest was concerned 
with the manual acts of sacrificing, and he was called an 
adhvaryu. There was at first, however, no distinct order, and 
each priest might perform any of these functions. There was 
but one education for all, and each priestly student received a 
triple training so that he might perform any one of these three 
duties. Gradually, however, the ritual of the sacrifices became 
elaborated, and with its growing complexity some division of 
priestly labour became unavoidable. No one priest could 
become an expert in the three branches of ritual, and specialist 
training became necessary. Probably at first it consisted in a 
priestly student first learning the ritual of all three branches and 
then specializing in one of them. The collection of Soma 
hymns into the ninth book of the Rigveda seems to show traces 
of this. But eventually something more than this was needed, 
and there came to be three orders of priests, each possessing 
its own particular Veda, and having its own training schools. 
This probably took place at some time between 1000 and 
800 B.C. 

The udgdtri had to learn to sing all the tunes required for 
the Soma ritual, and to know which particular strophe was 
required for each sacrifice. All the stanzas to be chanted at 
the Soma sacrifice were gathered into a separate collection 
called the Samaveda. All its verses except seventy-five were 
taken from the Rigveda , and form a special musical collection, 
1 Macdonell, Satis, Lit,, pp. 98 ft. 



or sacrificial liturgy, for the Soma ritual. 1 It consists of two 
parts called drchikas. The first drchika consists of stanzas, 
each of which was associated with a separate tune, of which 
there were no less than 585. The second part, or uttararehika , 
contains the strophes which were required for use in the ritual. 
The complicated work of the udgatri priest thus led to the 
creation of a special school for young Brahmans who wished 
to specialize m this branch of study. At a later date, when 
writing began to be used, tune books called ganas were 

Although the recitation of the appropriate hymns of praise 
at the ordinary sacrifices was the special duty of the hotri 
priest, the adhvaryu, who performed the manual acts of the 
sacrifice, was required to utter certain ritual formulas ( yajumshi ), 
and at different points of the ritual had also to utter certain 
prayers and praises. For the training of the adhvaryu priests 
also, special schools arose, and their particular Veda was the 
Yajurveda . 2 This collection consists of prose formulas or 
mantras , among which many verses, mostly taken from the 
Rigveda, are also interpolated. When these special schools 
were formed for the udgatri and adhvaryu priests, the older 
schools connected with the Rigveda came to be regarded as 
special schools for the hotri priests. Up to this time it would 
seem that only young Brahmans were admitted to these schools, 
but there seems to have been no hard-and-fast distinction 
between the three orders of priests, and a priest might exercise 
any or all of the three functions if only he had received the 
necessary training. These three Vedas alone were originally 
recognized as canonical collections. But somewhat later there 
came to be recognized a fourth Veda known as the Atharva- 
vedaA It took a long time to establish its position, and even 
to this day in certain parts of South India it is almost unknown. 

1 Macdonell, Sans. Lit ., pp. 17 1 ff. 

3 Ibid., pp. 185 fT. 

• Ibid ., pp. 174 ff. 


l 7 

It is a book of magic and sorcery, and consists of spells, which 
were used by the incantation priest. Most of these spells are 
to be used against hostile agencies such as diseases, animals, 
demons, wizards, and foes ; but some are of an auspicious 
nature and intended to bring prosperity and good luck. In 
connection with this Veda another kind of specialist school 

By the time these various types of priestly schools had 
been formed the centre of the Aryan civilization had shifted 
eastwards and lay somewhere between the Sutlej and the 
Jumna rivers. There came to be slight differences in the 
Vedic texts, and each recension was called a sakka. Those 
who followed a particular sakha of a Veda were said to form 
a charana , or schopl, of that Veda. At some time, however, 
precautions were taken for the preservation of the sacred text, 
and this led to the constitution of the padapafha 1 and other 
forms of the sacred texts. 

The different kinds of priestly schools had now become 
well developed, and were learned associations with a growing 
reputation, and a priest was proud of the school in which he 
had received his training, and he could not perform his duties 
as priest without having passed through one of these schools. 
The first duty of the student was to learn by heart the particular 
Yeda of his school. This he did by repeating it after his 
teacher until perfect accuracy was secured. The method was 
entirely oral, and it was not till much later times that writing 
was introduced. He would also receive a great deal of instruc- 
tion on his duties as a priest of the particular school in which 
he was studying, and also explanations of the meaning of the 
hymns and ritual acts. The instruction was called vidhi, the 
explanation arthavada. For a long time these lectures were 
given by the teacher as he willed in his own language, but in 
each school this didactic material tended to become more and 
1 See below, pp. 38 f., and Macdonell, Sans. Lit., p. 51. 



more in accordance with precedent, and finally became stereo- 
typed in the B/ahtnanas. x These works are in prose, and 
were composed somewhere between 800 and 500 b.c. The 
Brdhmanas are connected with the different Vedic schools, 
and contain such material as the students of each Veda 
required, but their general characteristics are the same. 
Besides instruction and explanation relating to the sacrificial 
ritual, they contain mythological stories and legends, specula- 
tion, and argument, and we can find in them the first beginnings 
of grammar, astronomy, etymology, philosophy, and law. Their 
intellectual activity was centred, however, on the sacrifice, and 
much of the matter contained in them seems meaningless and 
puerile to the modern mind. They exhibit an arrogant 
sacerdotalism, but at the same time signs of considerable 
intellectual vigour. The language of the old hymns had now 
become archaic, and unintelligible to the multitude. This is 
referred to in the Satapatha Brahmana , 2 and was no doubt one 
of the reasons why the power of the priesthood increased. 

The Aryans had now advanced further into India, and it 
is perhaps to this period that we are to ascribe the events 
which form the historical basis of the two great epics, the 
Mahabharata and the Ramayana. During this period there 
was a growth of luxury. The power of the king has become 
greater, and he employs an army of hired soldiers. The 
supremacy of the priesthood is being established, and the 
priest is coming to be regarded no longer as a servant or 
companion of the king, but as his superior. The' classes were 
becoming hardened into caste divisions, and besides the 
Brahmans (priests), Kshatriyas (nobles and warriors), and 
Vaifiyas (agriculturists and traders), who were of Aryan descent, 
though probably by this time mixed with non-Aryans, the great 
mass of non-Aryan peoples were classed as ^udras. In course 

1 Macdonell, Sans. Lit., p. 202. 

■ Satap. Br., iii. 2, 1, 24. , 



of time these castes became divided into many more, and 
every social distinction created by occupation, or race, or 
language tended to produce a separate caste. 

In the Atharvaveda 1 there is a mystic hymn which de- 
scribes the sun, or the primeval principle, under the figure of 
a Brahman student {brahmachari), who brings firewood and 
alms for his teacher. This offering of firewood to a teacher 
became the regular way by which a youth sought to be recog- 
nized as his pupil, and implied a desire to partake in his 
domestic sacrifice and to accept the duty of helping to main- 
tain it. . It also came to be a duty for students to collect alms 
for their own support and that of their teacher. From the 
Brahmanas we can get some idea of the early development of 
the educational system of the Brahmans. In the &atapatha 
Brahmana , for instance, we are given a line of succession of 
teachers who have transmitted the sacrificial science . 1 2 This 
line is traced back to Prajapati, and Brahman students are 
spoken of as guarding their teacher, his house and cattle, lest 
he should be taken from them . 3 There are references also to 
a lad going to a teacher with firewood in his hand and asking 
to become his pupil , 4 and to students collecting alms and fuel 
for their teacher . 5 This Brahmana also contains an account 
of the Upanayana, or initiation, of the Brahmanical student . 6 
1 He says, “ I have come for brahmacharya ” (studentship) ; he 
thereby reports himself to the Brahman. He says, “ Let me be a 
brahmachari ” (student) ; he thereby makes himself over to the 
Brahman. He (the teacher) then says, “ What is thy name ? ” 

. . . He then takes his (right) hand with, “ Indra’s disciple 
thou art ; Agni is thy teacher ; I am thy teacher, O N. N. ! ” 
He then commits him to the beings : “To Prajapati I commit 

1 Atharvaveda , xi. 5. 

• Satap. Br., x. 6, 5, 9. 3 Ibid., iii. 2, 6, 15. 

4 Ibid., xi. 4, 1, 9. 5 Ibid., xi. 3, 3. 

8 Ibid., xi. 5, 4. 



thee ; to the god Savitri I commit thee. ... To the waters, 
to the plants I commit thee. ... To Heaven and Earth I 
commit thee. ... To all beings I commit thee for security 
from injury. Thou art a brahmachdrl ... sip water ... do 
thy work . . . put on fuel ... do not sleep ... sip water.” ’ 
‘ Sip water ’ is explained as meaning ‘ sip ambrosia ’. ‘ He 

thus encloses him on both sides with ambrosia.’ ‘ He then 
recites to him (teaches him) the savitri .’ 

It was already becoming recognized that for the study of 
the Vedic learning a long period of studentship was necessary. 
In the Taittirlya Brahmana we read 1 — 

‘ Bharadvaja lived through three lives in the state of a 
religious student. India approached him when he was lying 
old and decrepit, and said to him, “ Bharadvaja, if I give thee 
a fourth life, how wilt thou employ it ? ” “I will lead the life 
of a religious student,” he replied. He (Indra) showed him 
three mountain-like objects, as it were unknown. From each 
of them he took a handful, and, calling to him, “ Bharadvaja ”, 
said, “ These are the three Vedas. The Vedas are infinite. 
This is what thou hast studied during these three lives. Now 
there is another thing which thou hast not studied ; come and 
learn it. This is the universal science. . . . He who knows 
this ( ya evarn veda ) conquers a world as great as he would 
gain by the triple Vedic science.”’ 

We have already seen how the influence of the priesthood 
had been growing and the ritual of the sacrifice enormously 
developed. But there must always have been some earnest 
seekers after truth who were not satisfied with sacrificial ritual. 
Already in some of the latest hymns of the Rigveda there are 
traces of philosophical speculation. Men were asking what 
the universe is and how it came into being, what the soul of 
man is, and what law governs birth and death. These and 
other great questions were troubling the minds of thoughtful 
1 Taitt. Br. , iii. io, II, 3. 


persons, and those who sought an answer to them often for- 
sook home and family and worldly duties and retired to the 
forests, where they spent their time in asceticism and medita- 
tion. This religious ferment was contributed to not only by 
Brahmans, but by many religious laymen. At the end of the 
Brdhmanas are certain treatises known as Aranyakas, 1 or 
‘forest-books’. They are allegorical expositions of the sacri- 
ficial ritual, and are considered to be the Brdhmanas of the 
Vdnaprasthas , an order of forest hermits that appeared about 
this time, who no longer performed the actual sacrifices, but 
only meditated on them. Some, however, have considered 
them to be treatises which, on account of their mystic sanctity, 
were only to be communicated in the solitude of the forest. 
They form a transition to the Upanishads , which are often 
embedded in them. These are treatises wholly given up to 
philosophical speculation, and represent the last stage of the 
Brahmana literature. The higher philosophical knowledge 
which they set forth came to be recognized as the Vedanta 
(end of the Veda) — the completion and crown of Vedic 
learning. These treatises were composed some time between 
800 and 500 b.c. The leading ideas of this philosophical 
speculation are that the world has been evolved from the 
Atman, or Universal Soul, and that this is also the Self within 
us. The inequalities of human life are explained by the 
doctrines of karma and transmigration. 

From the Upanishads we get many more sidelights on the 
ancient Brahmanic education. The meaning of the word 
‘ Upanishad ’ has been the matter of discussion. Max Muller 2 
says that ‘ Upanishad,’ besides being the recognized title of 
certain philosophical treatises, occurs also in the sense of 
doctrine and of secret doctrine, and that it seems to have 
assumed this meaning from having been used originally in the 

1 Macdonell, Sans. Lit., p. 204. 

■ S.B.E., vol. i. p. lxxx. 



sense of session or assembly, in which one or more pupils 
receive instruction from a teacher. These treatises profess to 
give a kind of esoteric doctrine, or higher enlightenment, and 
refer to pupils as having studied all the Vedas and sacrificial 
ritual, and yet without the knowledge of the answers to the 
deeper philosophical speculations which troubled earnest 
seekers after truth. Svetaketu Aruneya was a Brahman youth 
who was sent to school by his father. ‘ Having 1 begun his 
apprenticeship (with a teacher) when he was twelve years of 
age, Svetaketu returned to his father when he was twenty-four, 
having then studied all the Vedas — conceited, considering 
himself well-read, and stern. 

‘ His father said to him : “ Svetaketu, as you are so con- 
ceited, considering yourself well-read, and so stern, my dear, 
have you ever asked for that instruction by which we hear 
what cannot be perceived, by which we know what cannot be 
known ? ” ’ 

Svetaketu having expressed his ignorance of this deep 
teaching, his father proceeds to instruct him. 

It would seem that at this period it was not the universal 
custom for a Brahman youth to enter upon a life of studentship. 
Thus Svetaketu’s father said to him," ‘ Svetaketu, go to school, 
for there is none belonging to our race, darling, who, not 
having studied (the Veda), is, as it were, a Brahman by birth 
only’. So also the entrance 3 of Satyakama, son of Jabala, 
upon studentship seems to be his own voluntary choice. It 
was still often the custom for a son to receive instruction at 
the hands of his father, as in the case of Svetaketu , 4 but he 
often went to other teachers . 5 When a student wished to 

1 Chhand. Up., vi. i, 2, 3. 

3 Ibid; vi. I, 1. For education as reflected in the Upatiishads , see 
art. on asrama by Deussen in E.R.E. 

3 Chhand. Up; iv. 4, I. 

4 Ibid. , v. 3, 1 ; Britt. Ar. Up., vi. 2, I ; Kausk. Up., i. I. 

5 Chhand. Up., vi. I, I. 



become a pupil of any teacher, the recognized way of making 
application to him was to approach him with fuel in the hands 
as a sign that the pupil wished to serve him and help to main- 
tain his sacred fire. ‘ Let 1 him, in order to understand this, 
take fuel in his hand and approach a guru who is learned and 
dwells entirely in Brahman.' It seems to have been usual for 
the teacher to make an inquiry into the birth and family of 
the applicant before receiving him as a pupil, as in the case of 
Satyakama . 2 In this case the inquiry was made in a very 
indulgent manner, but it seems to show that it was still the 
rule only for Brahmans to be received as students. One in- 
stance is given where instruction was granted without any 
formal reception . 3 

As in the Brahmanas , the necessity for a long period of 
studentship is recognized. Thus Indra is said to have lived 
with Prajapati as a pupil no less than one hundred and five 
years . 4 The actual duration of studentship was coming to be 
recognized as twelve years . 5 During this period of twelve 
years we are told that Svetaketu studied all the Vedas, which 
differs from the later regulation of twelve years for each Veda. 
In the case of Svetaketu, however, it may have been only the 
hymns of the three Vedas that he learned, as this is what his 
father expected from him . 6 In the same Upanishad , however, 
we have what seems to be an exhaustive list of all that was 
studied in those days, and which includes a good deal more 
than a knowledge of the hymns of the three Vedas . 7 

‘Narada approached Sanatkumara and said, “Teach me, 
Sir !” Sanatkumara said to him : “ Please to tell me what you 
know ; afterwards I shall tell you what is beyond.” 

‘Narada said: “I know the Rigveda, Sir, the Yajurveda, 

1 Mund. Up., 1, 2, 12. There are several other references in the 

■ Chhand. Up., iv. 4, 4. 

4 Ibid., viii. ii. 3. 

6 Ibid., vi. 7, 2. 

3 Ibid., v. 11, 7. 

3 Ibid., iv. 10, 1 ; vi. i, 2. 
1 Ibid., vii. I, I, 2. 



the Samaveda, as the fourth the Artharvana, as the fifth the 
Itihasa-purana (the Bharata) ; the Veda of the Vedas 
(grammar) ; the Pitrya (the rules for the sacrifices for the 
ancestors) ; the Ra6i (the science of numbers) ; the Daiva 
(the science of portents) ; the Nidhi (the science of time) ; the 
Vakovakya (logic) ; the Ekayana (ethics) ; the Devavidya 
(etymology) ; the Brahmavidya (pronunciation, sikshd , cere- 
monial, kalpa , prosody, chhandas ) ; the Bhiitavidya (the 
science of demons) ; the Kshatravidya (the science of weapons) ; 
the Nakshatravidya (astronomy) ; the Sarpa- and Devajana- 
vidya (the science of serpents or poisons, and the sciences of 
the genii, such as the making of perfumes, dancing, singing, 
playing, and other fine arts). All this I know, Sir. . . ’ 

The Brihaddranyaka Upanishad gives a somewhat similar 
list, 1 namely, ‘ Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, Atharvan- 
girasas, 2 Itihasa (legends), Purana (cosmogonies), Vidya 
(knowledge), the Upanishads, Slokas (verses), Sutras (prose 
rules), Anuvyakhyanas (glosses), Vyakhyanas (commentaries) 

These extracts show how the curriculum of the Brahmanic 
schools was developing. 

The period of studentship was, however, looked upon not 
only as a time of learning, but as a time of vigorous discipline. 
There are some instances in the Upanishads where no teaching 
was given for several years after studentship had begun, 3 but 
these seem to be exceptional cases. Pupils had to work 
for their teacher in house and field, attending to his sacred 
fires, 4 looking after his cattle, 5 and collecting alms for him. 6 
The pupil also accompanied his teacher and awaited his 

1 Brih. Ar. Up., ii. 4, 10. 

s I.e. the Athai-vaveda. 

3 Upakosala in Ckkattd. Up., iv. 10, I, 2; Satyakama in C/ihand. Up., 
iv. 4, 5. 

* Ckhdtid. Up., iv. 10, 1. 

3 Ibid., iv. 4, 5. 

6 Ibid., iv. 3, 5. 



commands . 1 * In the leisure time left from the duties to be 
performed for th eguru ’ 2 the Veda was studied. 

It seems to have been the custom in those days for students 
sometimes to travel far and wide 3 * in order to attach themselves 
to celebrated teachers. Renowned teachers also itinerated from 
place to place , 1 and there were those to whom pupils came 
from all sides * as waters run downwards, as the months go 
to the year ’. 5 As a rule, however, a student remained in the 
house of his teacher till the conclusion of his studies, when he 
entered upon married life. On his dismissal the pupil received 
admonition from his teacher. ‘ After 3 having taught the Veda, 
the teacher instructs the pupil : “ Say what is true ! Do thy 
duty ! Do not neglect the study of the Veda ! After having 
brought to thy teacher his proper reward, do not cut off the 
line of children ! Do not swerve from the truth ! Do not 
swerve from duty ! Do not neglect what is useful ! Do not 
neglect greatness ! Do not neglect the learning and teaching 
of the Veda ! ” ’ etc. 

In some cases, however, the student might choose to 
become a life-long pupil of his teacher , 7 and in others to 
retire to the woods as a forest hermit, or vanaprastha , 8 

The Upanishads show us the theory of the four dsramas , 
or stages of life, in process of formation. The word dsrama 
(from the root sram, to exert oneself, or to perform austerities) 
means first of all a place where austerities are performed, or a 
hermitage, and secondly, the action of performing austerities. 
So the period of studentship of the brahmachart was regarded 
as a time of discipline, or an asrama. But the Brahmanical 
system tended to extend the idea of asrama over the whole 
life. Thus after the period of studentship a young man might 

1 Brill. Ar. Up., iii. 1, 2. 

3 Brih. Ar. Up-, iii. 3, 1 ; iii. 7, 1. 

5 Taitt. Up., 1, 4, 3. 

7 Bph. Ar, Up., ii. 23, 2. 

3 Chhand. Up., viii. 15, 1. 
' Kaush. Up., iv. 1. 

6 Ibid., I, II. 

8 Chhand. Up., ii. 23, 1. 



enter upon the second stage, that of a grihastha , or house- 
holder. Then after having brought up a family and done his 
duty in the world he could enter upon the life of a vatiaprastha, 
or forest hermit, and later became a sannyasi, or wandering 
ascetic, who had separated himself from all attachment to the 
world, and having attained the knowledge of the Atman , 
waited only for death ‘to bring about his final emancipation. 
But this complete theory of four dsramas was not worked out 
all at once. In the Upanishads we see only its beginnings. 
Thus in one passage in the Chhdndogya Upanishad there is 
mention of only the student and the householder, while in 
another 2 passage the asceticism (papas ) of the hermit is 
mentioned along with these as a third branch of duty. They 
are not, however, regarded so much as a progressive series 
as alternatives.' These passages also refer only to three 
dsramas, and contrast with them the man who knows the 
Atman. The position of the latter came in course of time 
to be regarded as a fourth dsrama. It was not, however, till 
much later times that the third and fourth were clearly 
separated, and the complete theory of the four stages worked 
out. When this was done the whole of life was looked upon 
as an education for the life beyond with four distinct stages, 
of which the life of studentship was only the first, though we 
cannot tell to what extent the practice corresponded to the 
theory, and it would seem likely that the ideal was never fully 
attained except by the few. 

In the early Vedic schools it seems that instruction was 
confined to young Brahmans, and was regarded mainly as a 
preparation for their future vocation as priests, but at some 
time before 500 b.c. the education of the young Kshatriyas 
and Vaisyas had also come under Brahman control, and in 

1 C/ihand. Up viii. 15, I. 

2 Ibid., ii. 23, 2. 

3 See also passages in Brik. Ar. Up., iv. 4, 22 ; iii. 5, I ; iii. 8, 10. 

brahm'anic education 


their case was an opportunity of inculcating in their minds the 
necessary directions for all their future life. It became also 
the exclusive privilege of the Brahmans to give this instruction, 
and this marks the growing influence of the priesthood. The 
ceremony of initiation and investiture with the sacred thread 
came to be regarded for all the Aryan youth as the preliminary 
to school life. The three castes which had this privilege, 
namely, the Brahmans, Kshatriyas, and VaiSyas, were called 
dvija, or ‘twice-born’, because the ceremony of iniliation was 
looked upon as a second birth. 

By the time, then, that the various portions of the Veda 
had been completed, Brahmanic education was not only of 
long standing, but was highly organized, and the literature of 
the next period shows elaborate rules formed for its regula- 
tion. This literature is known as the Sutras, and came into 
being from about 600 to 200 b.c. The sacred books which 
had to be mastered by the student had increased to a huge 
bulk, and it was necessary to condense their teaching into 
some convenient form. Sutras , or ‘ threads ’, consist of 

aphorisms, or pithy phrases, in which condensation and brevity 
have been carried out to such an extent that the result is 
often an obscurity which can only be explained by a com- 
mentary. There was a saying that the saving of one syllable 
in a Sutra gave more pleasure than the birth of a son, the 
force of which can only be understood when we remember 
how important it was considered that every Hindu should 
have a son to succeed him and perform the sacrificial rites 
after his death. The rules which applied to education are 
contained in the Dharma 1 Sutras. Dharma is ‘ one 2 of 
the most comprehensive and important terms in the whole of 
Sanskrit literature ’. It includes the ideas of sacred law and duty, 
justice, religious merit, religion, and morality. It is applied to 

1 Also in the Grihya Sutras. 

2 See E.R.E., vol. iv., p. 702, article on ‘ Dharma’, by J. Jolly. 



the established practice or custom of any caste or community. 
That which a man is expected to do because of his position in 
life or his caste is his dharma. During the early centuries of 
Brahmanic education the dharma relating to education as well 
as to other matters had been gradually formed, and we have 
already seen something of this process going on. The com- 
position of the Sutras helped to fix the dharma and so to 
stereotype a great deal of the social system, including the 
educational theory and practice of the schools. The oldest 
existing Dharma Sutras are considered by scholars to be those 
of Gautama, and their date is supposed to be about 500 b.c . 1 
The Dharma Sutras contain regulations relating to social life, 
and amongst other things have many rules dealing with the 
duties of teachers and students. It must be remembered, of 
course, that these rules, though composed about 500 b.c., give 
an account of practice which must have been still more 
ancient. There are other extant Dharma Sutras , besides 
those of Gautama, eg those of Apastamba, Vasishtha, and 
Baudhayana, which probably come a little later, and the 
great Law Book of India, the Code of Manu, is a metrical 
work, supposed by scholars to date from about 200 a.d., but 
to be based upon a much older Mdnava Dharma Sutra , 2 
which is no longer extant. 

There were many sacred rites or sacraments ( samskdras ) 
to be performed from the time of conception onwards. The 
upatiayana , or initiation ceremony, was that sacrament by 
which a lad of the three ‘ twice-born ’ castes entered upon 
studentship. Gautama says , 3 ‘ The initiation of a Brahman 
shall ordinarily take place in his eighth year. (It may also be 
performed) in the ninth or fifth (years) for the fulfilment of 
(some particular) wish. The number of years (is to be 
calculated) from conception. That (initiation) is the second 

1 Macdonell, Sans. Lit., p. 260. 2 Ibid., p. 428. 

3 Gautama, i. 5— 1 4. 



birth. . . . The initiation of a Kshatriya (shall ordinarily 
take place) in the eleventh (year after conception), and that of 
a VaiSya in the twelfth. Up to the sixteenth year the time for 
the savitrl (initiation) of a Brahman has not passed. Nor 
(for the initation) of a Kshatriya up to the twentieth (year). 
(And the limit for that) of a VaiSya (extends) two years 
beyond (the latter term).’ The other Sutras contain similar 
regulations. The age fixed was no doubt regarded as the 
ideal to be aimed at, though we see that considerable latitude 
was provided for. A young Brahman was thus about seven 
years of age (according to our reckoning) when he entered 
upon the obligations of studentship, and this age is that 
which has been considered a suitable one by many education- 
ists. It was expressly provided in a later verse that a child 
should not be made to recite Vedic verses before initiation ; 1 
but whether this excluded all study cannot be said. Why a 
later age was provided for Kshatriyas and Vai6yas to com- 
mence their studies is not quite clear. They were, of course, 
not expected to attain to the same proficiency in the Vedic 
sciences as the young Brahman, as he alone could perform the 
sacrificial ritual, and certain portions of the sacred knowledge 
were reserved for him, and their course was therefore, it may 
be supposed, not expected to last as long as his. But in this 
case we should have expected them to have started at the 
same time and to have left their studentship at an earlier age, 
especially as they had also to learn their own particular crafts. 
It seems probable, however, that the difference in age was to 
emphasize the supposed intellectual superiority of the Brahman, 
who was thus ready to begin the study at a younger age than 
his non-Brahman fellows. 

There were regulations for the clothing of those who had 
become students. 2 The girdle or sacred cord worn after 
initiation varied in material according to the caste. For the 

1 Gautama, ii. 5. 2 Ibid., i. 15-27. 

3 ° 


Brahman it was to be of munja grass ; for the Kshatriya, a bow- 
string ; and for the Vai6ya, a woollen or hempen thread. The 
upper garments were to be skins of animals, again varying 
according to caste, and respectively, the skin of a black buck, 
a spotted deer, or a he-goat. For lower garments hemp, flax, 
or wool, or the inner bark of a certain tree were prescribed. 
Gautama says that these under-garments might also be of 
undyed cotton cloth, but if dyed the garment of a Brahman 
should be dyed with red dye from a tree, and those of the 
other two castes with madder and turmeric respectively. The 
staves carried also varied according to caste, reaching, in the 
case of the Brahman, to the crown of the head ; in the case of 
the Kshatriya, to the forehead ; and in the case of the Vai6ya, 
to the tip of the nose. The hair might be shaved or worn 
braided on the top, or there might be merely one lock left on 
the crown. The arrangement of hair was probably regulated 
by the custom of the family, school, or country. 

Having accepted the position of student by the rite of 
initiation, to which we have already referred, the pupil was 
received into the household of his teacher. Sometimes, of 
course, the teacher might be his own father. But although he 
was thus made, as it were, a member of his teacher’s family, 
and the teacher was bidden to love him as his own son, the 
pupil was subjected to a rigid discipline during his course of 
study. The length of the course varied according to the 
number of Vedas studied. ‘ He shall remain a student for 
twelve years in order to study one Veda. Or if he studies all 
the Vedas, twelve years for each. Or during as long a period 
as he requires for learning them.’ 1 Thus, if all four Vedas 
were studied, the length of the course might be forty-eight 
years ! Some of the authorities only recognize three Vedas 
(excluding the Atharvaveda), but even thirty-six years seems 
a long enough course even for the most enthusiastic. A great 
1 Gautama, ii. 45-47. 



part of the work consisted of the committal to memory of the 
sacred texts and other writings, and the enormous bulk of 
these must have necessitated a long period of study. It seems 
hardly possible to believe that more than a few students con- 
tinued their studies as long as even thirty-six years. Probably 
most were satisfied with the twelve years required for studying 
one Veda, and the twelve years prescribed for each of the 
Vedas may have been intended to emphasize their importance. 
Megasthenes, the Greek who visited India about 300 b.c., 
refers, however, to the Indian student spending thirty-seven 
years in study. The length of the annual term to be spent in 
Veda study was four and a half or five and a half months each 
year, and began usually at the full moon of the month Sravana 
(July- Aug.) 1 It thus came during the rainy and cold seasons 
when the heat is less intense. Numerous holidays were also 
allowed, such as the new-moon and full-moon, days of certain 
months and other days which were set apart for various 
religious ceremonies. The authorities have also a long list of 
restrictions, 2 which prohibit the reading of the Veda when 
certain occurrences take place, as, for instance, when the wind 
whirls up dust in the daytime, or when the wind is audible 
at night, when the sound of a drum or of a chariot or of a 
person in pain is heard, when there is the barking of dogs and 
jackals, or the chattering of monkeys, when the sky was a 
brilliant red, or there was a rainbow, etc., etc. Some of these 
restrictions were no doubt dictated by superstition, others 
because the various sounds or phenomena betokened im- 
pending danger or discomfort, or because their distraction was 
not conducive to study. But all these possible hindrances 
must have reduced the actual time spent in learning. 

The pupil was under certain obligations towards the 
teacher. In the first place, he was to remain with the teacher 
so long as his course lasted, and not to dwell with anybody 
1 Gautama, xvi. i, 2 2 Ibid., xvi. 



else . 1 From the Upanishads one gets the impression that 
students sometimes wandered from teacher to teacher, but if 
that were so it must either have been irregular, or else was 
found to be attended with abuses, and afterwards restricted. 

Certain menial services had to be performed by the pupil 
for his teacher. This included the fetching of water and col- 
lecting fuel, and sweeping the place round the fire. Begging 
for his food was also a duty which the student had to per- 
form . 2 Food might be accepted from men of all castes 
except ‘ AbhiSastas and outcastes ’. 3 It was to be demanded 
if possible from strangers, but if no alms were to be obtained 
in that way the student might beg in the houses of his re- 
lations or even of his teacher . 4 When he returned from his 
begging tour the student had to announce to his teacher what 
he had received, and after receiving his permission he might 
eat according to the prescribed rules, ‘ in silence, contented, 
and without greed ’. 6 In the Middle Ages in Europe we 
read of some students in the universities subsisting by means 
of begging ; but India far surpassed that by making it a rule 
for all students, and even under modern conditions it is not 
at all uncommon for students to find their support in this 

Rigid rules were laid down for the conduct of pupils. 
These included hygienic, moral, and religious precepts and 
the regulation of good manners. It was his duty to bathe 
daily, and to avoid 6 ‘ honey, meat, perfumes, garlands, sleep 
in the daytime, ointments, collyrium, a carriage, shoes, a 
parasol, love, anger, coveteousness, perplexity, garrulity, play- 
ing musical instruments, bathing (for mere pleasure), cleaning 
the teeth, elation, dancing, singing, calumny, and terror ’, and 

1 Gautama, iii. 5. 2 Apastamba, i. 1. 

3 Gautama, ii. 35. * Ibid., ii 37. 

5 Ibid., ii. 39-41. 

c Ibid., ii. 13 ; Manu, ii. 177,. 178. 



all pungent foods. In the presence of his teacher he must 
not cover his throat, cross his legs, or lean against a wall, or 
stretch out his feet . 1 ‘Tongue, arms, and stomach’ were 
to be kept in subjection . 2 Spitting, laughing, yawning, and 
cracking the joints of the fingers were also forbidden . 3 He 
was enjoined always to speak the truth, and to avoid bitter 
speeches . 4 He was always to speak in a respectful manner 
of superiors . 6 Gambling, ‘ low service ’ (perhaps menial 
service other than that prescribed), taking things not offered, 
and injuring animate beings were also unlawful for a student . 6 
All Brahmans were forbidden to use spirituous liquors . 7 
Chastity was strictly enjoined, and the student was not even 
to gaze at or touch women . 8 In the morning and evening 
the pupil was bidden to perform his devotions outside the 
village. ‘ Silent he shall stand during the former, and sit 
during the latter, from (the time when one) light (is still 
visible) until (the other) light (appears ).’ 9 Oblations were 
also to be offered morning and evening to the sacred fire . 10 

There were rules also for the respect due from pupil to 
teacher. Strict obedience was enjoined unless the teacher 
ordered the pupil to commit crimes which involved loss of 
caste . 11 The pupil was on no account to contradict the 
teacher, and was always to occupy a seat or couch lower than 
the teacher . 13 He was always to rise in the morning before his 
teacher was up, and retire to rest at night after him . 13 If 
spoken to by the teacher he must, if lying or sitting, rise from 
his couch or seat before he answered, and when called by the 
teacher was to approach him even though he could not see 

I Gautama, ii. 14. 

3 Ibid., ii. 15. 

5 Gautama, ii. 24. 

7 Ibid., ii. 20. 

9 Ibid., ii. 11. 

II Apastamba, i. 1. 
13 Gautama, ii. 21. 

2 Ibid., ii. 22. 

* Ibid., ii. 19 ; Manu, ii. 179. 
“ Ibid., ii. 17. 

8 Ibid., ii. 16. 

19 Ibid., ii. 8. 

12 Ibid. 




him. If he saw the teacher standing or sitting in a lower 
place, or to the leeward or to the windward, he was to rise and 
change his position . 1 If the teacher walked, the student was 
to walk after him . 2 The teacher’s name was not to be pro- 
nounced by the pupil, but if it was necessary to indicate it 
the pupil must do so by using a synonymous term . 3 Every 
morning the feet of the teacher were to be embraced by the 
pupil . 4 There were also rules enjoining respect for the sons 
and wives and other relatives of the teacher. In Manu these 
rules are even further elaborated . 5 

The teacher was also under obligation to fulfil his duty 
towards the pupil. Not only was he to love him as his own 
son, but he was to give him full attention in the teaching of the 
sacred science, and withhold no part of it from him . 6 He 
was not to use the pupil for his own purposes except in times 
of distress. After the rite of initiation has been performed 
his first duty was to instruct the pupil in the rules of personal 
purification, of conduct, of the fire worship, and of the twilight 
devotions. There is a passage in Manu 7 referring to the 
behaviour of the teacher towards his pupil which contains 
some excellent advice. It runs as follows : — 

‘ Created beings must be instructed in what concerns their 
welfare without giving them pain, and sweet and gentle speech 
must be used by a teacher who desires to abide by the sacred 
law. He, forsooth, whose speech and thoughts are pure and 
ever perfectly guarded, gains the whole reward which is con- 
ferred by the Vedanta. Let him not, even though in pain, 
speak words cutting others to the quick ; let him not injure 
others in thought or deed ; let him not utter speeches which 
make others afraid of him, since that will prevent him from 
gaining heaven.’ 

2 Ibid., ii. 28. 3 Ibid., ii. I S, 23. 

5 See Manu, ch. ii. 

’ Manu, ii. 159-161. 

1 Gautama, ii. 25-27. 
4 Ibid., i. 52. 

0 Apastamba, i. 2. 



These old-time teachers seem to have been against harsh 
punishments. Gautama says , 1 ‘ As a rule the pupil shall not 
be punished corporally. If no other course is possible he 
may be corrected with a thin rope or cane. If the teacher 
strikes him with any other instrument he shall be punished 
by the king’. Manu also allows 2 that a pupil who has com- 
mitted faults ‘ may be beaten with a rope or split bamboo, 
but on the back part of the body only, never on a noble part ; 
he who strikes them otherwise will incur the same guilt as a 
thief’. Apastamba, however, allows 3 as punishments, ‘ frighten- 
ing, fasting, bathing in cold water, and banishment from the 
teacher’s presence’. 

It was considered a duty for Brahmans to teach, and all the 
time the pupil was under instruction the teacher was forbidden 
to accept a fee. When, however, the course was ended, it 
was the duty of the pupil to offer a present to his preceptor. 
Except possibly in the case of rich pupils it could never have 
been in any sense an adequate remuneration for services per- 
formed. Manu says , 4 1 He who knows the sacred law must 
not present any gift to his teacher before the samavartana 
(rite performed by student on returning home) ; but when, 
with the permission of his teacher, he is about to take the 
(final) bath, let him procure a present for the venerable man 
according to his ability, viz. a field, a cow, a horse, a parasol 
and shoes, a seat, grain, even vegetables, and thus give pleasure 
to his teacher ’. 

After the course was completed the pupil performed 
certain bathing ceremonies, and was called a stiaiaka , that is, 
one who has bathed, and he was now ready to enter upon 
another of the four asramas. In most cases he would marry 
and become a grihastha , but some passed at once to the 
state of a vdnaprastha or sannyasl. 

1 Gautama, ii. 42-44. 2 Manu, viii. 299, 300. 

3 Apastamba, i. 2. 4 Manu, ii. 245, 246. 



The foregoing account shows us an interesting and pleasing 
picture of the life of pupil and teacher in India dating back 
to many centuries before Christ. The pupil was under a some- 
what rigorous discipline, but there was nothing harsh or brutal 
about it, and a high ideal of moral life and character was 
held before both pupil and teacher. The latter had no mer- 
cenary motive to impel him to teach, but was to perform 
his office solely as a duty which he owed towards others and 
his pupil in particular ; and the pupil, on the other hand, was 
trained to a simple life, whether he was rich or poor, and 
habits of discipline, reverence, and self-respect were incul- 

Coming now to the actual teaching Gautama tells us as 
follows 1 : — 

* Taking hold with his right hand of the left hand of his 
teacher, but leaving the thumb free, the pupil shall address 
his teacher, saying, “ Venerable Sir, recite ! ” He shall fix his 
eyes and his mind on the teacher. He shall touch with kusa 
grass the seat of the vital airs ( i.e . the organs of sense located 
in his head). He shall thrice restrain his breath for the space 
of fifteen moments. And he shall seat himself on blades of 
kusa grass the tops of which are turned to the east. The five 
vydhritis (i.e. the mystic words Bhuh , Bhuvah, Sva/i, Satyam, 
and Purushah) must each be preceded by the syllable Om 
and with Satya. Every morning the feet of the teacher must 
be embraced by the pupil. And both at the beginning and at 
the end of a lesson in the Veda. After having received per- 
mission, the pupil shall sit down Jo the right of his teacher, 
turning his face towards the east or towards the north, and the 
sdvitri must be recited. All these acts must be performed at 
the beginning of the instruction in the Veda. The syllable 
Om must precede the recitation of other parts of the Veda 

1 Gautama, i. 46 ff. 



Meaningless and trivial as many of these regulations seem 
to us, they were no doubt regarded as of great value by those 
who used them in those far-off days. They must have been 
intended to emphasize the great solemnity of the work in 
which pupil and teacher were engaged, and to impress upon 
the pupil the mysterious sacredness which was supposed to 
characterize the knowledge which was being passed on to him 
by his teacher. The first and foremost object which the 
teacher had before him was to hand down to the pupil the 
exact contents of the sacred books as he himself had received 
them, as well as of those sacrificial and other rules which it 
was necessary for the young Brahman to know in order to 
perform his priestly functions. 

The different Vedas arose, as we have seen, as collections 
primarily intended for different classes of priests. Every 
Brahmanic family became devoted to the study of a particular 
Veda, and to a particular kdkhd or recension of that Veda. 
The domestic rites of that family are performed according to 
the ritual described in the Sutras connected with that Veda. 
It became then of the first importance that the exact text of 
that particular Veda, with the Brahmanas and Aranyakas or 
Upanishads, as well as of the Sutras attached to them, should 
be handed down from generation to generation. Now, writing 
was not known in India till 800 b.c., when it was introduced 
by traders coming by way of Mesopotamia. And although 
the complete Sanskrit alphabet on phonetic principles must 
have existed by 500 e.c., this being the alphabet recognized 
by the great grammarian, Panini, who flourished in the fourth 
century b.c., writing was at first used chiefly for trading and 
other similar purposes, and it was a long time before it came 
to be used for the sacred books. 1 Probably these were con- 
sidered too holy to be committed to writing, and there was 

1 For writing in India, see ‘Buddhist India’, T. W. Rhys Davids, 
pp. 107 ft'. 


brXhmanic education 

also the fear that they might get into the hands of unauthorized 
persons. In course of time they were all committed to writing, 
but oral tradition was still the method relied on for handing 
down the sacred text. Max Muller stales 1 that even nowa- 
days, when there are not only manuscripts but also a printed 
text, the Vedas are still passed on in the Brahmanic families 
by oral tradition. When one considers the enormous bulk of 
the sacred literature it would seem an almost impossible task 
for it to have been preserved all through so many centuries 
in this way. Still we know it was done and is being done 
down to the present time. We need not be surprised at the 
long period of twelve years which was considered necessary 
to become acquainted with even one Veda. Max Muller 
quotes 2 from a letter which he received in 1878 from an Indian 
gentleman giving an account of the system as it was then. 

‘ A student of a Rigveda &dkhd, if sharp and assiduous, takes 
about eight years to learn the Dasagranthas , the ten books, 
which consist of (1) the Samhitd or the hymns; (2) the Brdh- 
mana , the prose treatise on sacrifices, etc. ; (3) the Aranyaka, 
the forest-book ; (4) the Grihya-Siitras , the rules on domestic 
ceremonies; (5-10) the six Angas , treatises on pronunciation, 
astronomy, ceremonial, grammar, etymology, and metre. A 
pupil studies every day during the eight years, except on the 
holidays, the so-called anadhydya , i.e. non-reading days. To 
complete the work in eight years he would have to learn 
about 12 slokas of 32 syllables each every day.’ Professor 
R. G. Bhandarkar is also quoted with regard to the wonderful 
arrangements which the Brahmans devised for the accurate 
preservation of the sacred text. These were far more com- 
plicated than anything the Massoretes ever dreamed of. In 
the samhitd arrangement the words were in their natural 
order and joined together according to the Sanskrit rules of 

1 Lectures on the Origin of Religion , ch. iii. 

2 Ibid. 



sandhi. In the pada arrangement the words were separate, 
that is, not united by sandhi , and the compounds also dis- 
solved. In the krama arrangement the words were in the 
following order : i, 2 ; 2, 3 ; 3, 4 ; 4, 5, etc., with sandhi 
between them. In the jata arrangement the order was 1, 2, 2, 
1.1,2; 2, 3, 3, 2, 2, 3 ; 3, 4, 4, 3, 3, 4, etc. In the ghana, 
D 2, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 3, 2, 1, i>2, 3 ; 2, 3. 3, 2, 2, 3, 4. 4. 3. 2, 
2, 3, etc. This was, no doubt, a later development, but it 
must have greatly added to the burden upon the pupil’s power 
of memorizing, which even before was almost too heavy to be 
borne, and we must wonder however pupils could have been 
willing to submit to the monotonous task of learning by rote 
such an enormous mass of material. It certainly seems as 
though the powers of memorizing gained by this laborious 
process have been inherited by later generations, for it is no 
uncommon thing for a boy in India, even at the present day, 
to commit on his own initiative a whole text-book to memory, 
a task which most English boys would find unbearable. 

To get a picture of how the task of rote-learning was 
carried on at least 500 b.c., we can refer to the Prdtisdkhya 
of the Rigveda. This work is considered to belong to the 
fifth or sixth century b.c., that is, to about the same time as 
so me of the earliest of the Sutras. Max Muller, quoting this 
work, 1 says — 

‘ In the fifteenth chapter there is a description of the 
method followed in the schools of ancient India. The teacher, 
we are told, must himself have passed through the recognized 
curriculum and have fulfilled all the duties of a Brahmanical 
student ( brahmachdri ) before he is allowed to become a 
teacher, and he must teach such students only as submit to 
all the rules of studentship. He shall settle down in a proper 
place. If he has only one pupil or two, they should sit on 
his right side; if more, they must sit as there is room for 
1 Lectures on the Origin of Religion , p. 159. 



them. At the beginning of each lecture the pupils embrace 
the feet of their teacher and say, Read, Sir. The teacher 
answers, Om , Yes, and then pronounces two words, or if it is 
a compound, one. When the teacher has pronounced one 
word, or two, the first pupil repeats the first word ; but if there 
is anything that requires explanation, the pupil says, Sir ; and 
after it has been explained to him (the teacher says) Om t 
Yes, Sir. In this manner they go on till they have finished a 
prakna (question) which consists of three verses, or if they are 
verses of more than 40 to 42 syllables, of two verses. If they 
are pankti verses of 40 to 42 syllables each, a prasna may 
comprise either two or three ; and if a hymn consists of one 
verse only, that is supposed to form a prasna. After the prasna 
is finished, they have all to repeat it once more, and then to 
go on learning it by heart, pronouncing every syllable with the 
high accent. After the teacher has first told a prasna to his 
pupil on the right, the others go round him to the right, and 
this goes on till the whole adhyaya or lecture is finished ; a 
lecture consisting generally of 60 prasnas. At the end of the 
last half-verse the teacher says, Sir, and the pupil replies, Om, 
Yes, Sir, repeating also the verses required at the end of a 
lecture. The pupils then embrace the feet of their teacher, 
and are dismissed. The Prdtisdkhya contains a number of 
minute rules besides as to repetition of words, etc.’ 

Besides the actual memorizing of the sacred books, we 
see that the teacher was in the habit of giving explanations 
when required by the pupil. We cannot say what this 
amounted to in the first place. In the case of the sacred 
books themselves many pupils were perhaps content simply to 
absorb their contents without fully understanding their mean- 
ing, 1 but when other subjects and sciences arose it would seem 
probable that explanation must have been given a much larger 
place. The Sutras were composed in language so condensed 
1 But see also p. 17 above as to the Brahmanas. 



that a considerable amount of explanation must have been 
necessary, and they were studied together with a commentary. 
In the Upanishads we find that the philosophic teaching given 
there is often illustrated by parables from nature, or stories 
like that of Nachiketas visiting the abode of the dead. And 
in later works like the Panc/iatantra and the Hitopadesa we 
find stories and fables given a very important place in the 
inculcation of moral truths. India is, in fact, the home of 
fable and allegory. If the Brahman teachers, as seems likely, 
made use of this form of teaching in instructing their pupils, 
there must have been something at least to interest and to 
relieve the monotony of the laborious process of learning by 
heart. The system of teaching was individual, and each pupil 
was separately instructed by the teacher, though there may 
have been occasions when the teacher explained something to 
all the pupils at the same time. There is a passage in Manu 1 
which seems to imply that the son of the teacher sometimes 
helped his father by teaching in his father’s stead, and perhaps 
from this arose the custom which we find in vogue in later 
times of the teacher being assisted in his work by some of the 
older pupils who acted as monitors. When the Brahmanic 
system of education first arose writing was unknown in India, 
but later on, when writing came into use, the task of teaching 
it was added to the work of the teacher. 

We have seen that the Brahmanic education started out with 
the idea of the teacher passing on to the pupil the traditions 
he had himself received, and this involved primarily the learn- 
ing by heart of the sacred books, but even from the earliest 
times the content of the education must have begun to widen 
out. The sacrificial ritual itself gave birth to some of the 
sciences. The elaborate rules for the construction of altars 
led to the sciences of geometry and algebra being developed, 
and as it was sometimes desired to erect a round altar covering 
1 Manu, ii. 208. 



the same area as a square one, problems like squaring the circle 
had to be faced . 1 The desire to find out propitious times and 
seasons for sacrifice and other purposes gave rise to astrology, 
from which astronomy developed. The dissection of sacrificial 
victims was the beginning of anatomy. The care taken to 
preserve the sacred text from corruption led to the develop- 
ment of grammar and philology, while the deep questions with 
regard to the universe and man’s place in it, which were already 
being referred to in the Samhitds of the Vedas, and discussed 
more fully in the Aranyakas and Upanishads, led to the forma- 
tion of elaborate philosophical systems and the study of logic. 
Medicine also received an early development in India as well 
as law. 

Reference has already been made to the Sutras. These 
are the characteristic Indian text-books, and a great many 
were written on all sorts of subjects. According to the tra- 
ditional Brahman view there are six subjects, the study of 
which is necessary for the reading, understanding, or sacrificial 
employment of the Veda . 2 These are called the Vedatigas, or 
‘members of the Veda’. They comprise the following sub- 
jects — Siks/ia (or phonetics); Chhandas (or metre); Vydka- 
rana (or grammar) ; Nirukta (etymology or explanation of 
words) : Jyotisha (or astronomy) ; and Kalpa (or ceremonial 
and religious practice). From these, however, other subjects 
developed, as, for example, the study of law from Kalpa. 

The study of grammar must have been taken up in India 
from very early times . 3 Pdnitii , who is still the greatest 
recognized authority, was a native of Gandhara in the north- 
west of India. He wrote his great grammatical work about 
the fourth century b.c., but refers to no less than sixty-four 

1 R. C. Dult, Ancient India, pp. 93 fif. 

• Max Muller, Sans. Lit., p. 109. 

3 See Miscellaneous Essays, H. T. 'Colebrooke (ed. 1873), ii. 33 ft.; 
Macdonell, Sans. Lit., pp. 430 ff. 



predecessors. His Sutras containing the rules of grammar 
were in eight books, called the Ashtddhydyi, comprising about 
four thousand aphorisms. With regard to his work Max Muller 
says that in grammar there is no more comprehensive collec- 
tion and classification of all the facts of a language than we 
find in Panini’s Sutras A Panini was followed in the third 
century b.c. by Katydyana , who wrote Vdrttikas, or notes on 
some of Panini’s rules. Somewhat later came the Mahd- 
bhdshya, or great commentary, of Patanjali , which dates from 
about the second century b.c. These writers are the standard 
authorities on Sanskrit grammar, from whom there is, to 
Hindus, no appeal. Other authorities may be admitted where 
these writers are silent ; but a deviation, even by an ancient 
writer, from their rules is considered a poetical licence or a 
barbarism. There have been many grammatical works written 
in India since these early writers, but they are all based on 
their work, and to this day the Sutras of Panini are committed 
to memory by students of Sanskrit in India. Lexicography 
was also cultivated in India at an early date, and the Sanskrit 
dictionaries are versified. The Amarakosa , a metrical lexicon 
of Sanskrit words, was composed about 500 a.d/, and is still 
committed to memory by Indian children. The Indian 
phonetics of the fifth century b.c. are such an accurate analysis 
of the elements of language that modern ages have had much 
to learn from them. 

There were many early writers on astronomy in India, and 
their works were reduced to a concise and practical form by 
Aryabhata , 2 who was born at Pataliputra, or Patna, in 476 a.d. 
He taught the rotation of the earth on its axis, and explained 
the causes of the eclipses of the sun and moon. Another 
famous Indian astronomer was Bhaskaracharya, who was born 
in 1 1 14 a.d. Closely allied to astronomy was mathematics, 

1 Lais, on Origin of Religion, ch. iii. 

2 Macdonell, Sans. Lit., pp. 434, 435. 



which is also dealt with in their works by early Indian astro- 
nomers. Algebra was also known, and it is to India that the 
West is indebted for its system of numerical notation, which 
came from India through the Arabs, and is often wrongly 
attributed to them. In some subjects, as, for example, astro- 
nomy, Indian scholars were influenced by Greek learning, but 
the exact connection in all subjects has not been fully worked 

As the materials for the study of the subjects included in 
the six Angas increased and accumulated, such an enormous 
amount of matter would have to be worked through by in- 
tending students that it evidently became impossible for one 
student to acquire a mastery of all subjects, and so special 
schools arose for the study of special subjects . 1 In the Vedic 
schools the chief object was to acquire a complete mastery of 
the sacred text, and this in itself was a huge task even if only 
one Veda were attempted. At first the Angas were no doubt 
short treatises, but in course of time they grew enormously in 
bulk. Grammar, for example, was developed by Panini and 
others, and their works became in themselves voluminous. 
Other sciences also came to be developed. If a student 
aimed at committing all the Vedic texts to memory, together 
with the accompanying Angas, he might succeed in his task, 
but he could hardly have gained a real understanding of the 
subject-matter. He became simply a kind of walking library. 

It must have become necessary at some time for those 
who wished to become masters of separate subjects to restrict 
the number of works which were learned by heart and specialize 
in some part of the field of knowledge. This is made clear 
by the state of Hindu learning in India in modern times. It 
is said that there are men called Vaidiks who can recite whole 
volumes of the sacred texts. But besides this there are 

1 For the beginnings of specialization, see Biihler, S.B.E., vol. xxv. 
pp. xlvi. ff. 



specialists who have an expert knowledge of some part of the 
ancient learning, such as the performance of sacrifices, grammar, 
law, or astronomy. This. specialization must have begun in 
very early times, as the work of the grammarians like Panini 
shows. Thus were formed special schools for various subjects, 
which included grammar, law, and astronomy. This speciali- 
zation began probably about the fifth century b.c. It is thought 
that law became a special subject of study at a somewhat later 
date than grammar or astronomy, but even in some of the 
Dharma Sutras ( Vasishiha and Baudhdyana) there are traces 
that the specialization had already begun. The Manava 
Dharmamstra , or Law Code of Manu, grew up in one of 
these special law schools. 

The science of medicine also was developed in India at an 
early date. 1 One of the great authorities was Charaka, and he 
is said by a Chinese authority to have been the court physician 
of the Buddhist King Kanishka in the first century of our era. 
Another great name is that of Su6ruta, who lived about the 
fourth or fifth century a.d. It is probable that the develop- 
ment of medical science owed something to the influence of 
Buddhism, with its strong regard for the sacredness of life and 
insistence on the law of kindness. Through Arabic channels 
Indian medical science had a great influence on the subject 
as studied and practised in Europe in the Middle Ages, and 
even in the eighteenth century the operation of rhinoplasty 
was borrowed from India by European surgery. Hindu phy- 
sicians are called Vaidyas , and Ayur- Vedic medicine, as it is 
named, is still practised in India. 

In philosophy we can trace the beginnings of the subject 
right back to the Upanishads, and even to the Brdhmanas and 
Samhitds. The six recognized systems or schools of philo- 
sophy began to develop before the beginning of the Christian 
era, and are in three pairs, each pair having close connection. 

1 Macdonell, Sans. Lit., pp. 435, 436. 

4 6 


The Purvamimamsd and the Uttaramimamsa (or Vedanta ) 
represent orthodox Brahman thought. The former teaches 
the eternity of the Veda and explains the meaning and value 
of the ‘Way of Works’, especially of sacrificial acts. The 
latter expounds the ‘ Way of Knowledge and teaches that 
the All, or Brahman, alone truly exists and is one, and the 
soul is Brahman. The subject is synthesized with the object, 

‘ Tat tvam asi ’ (‘ Thou art That ’). The Sankhya philosophy 
is atheistic, and teaches a species of dualism, and that salva- 
tion, or release from matter, is attained by a clear knowledge 
of the distinction between soul and matter. The Yoga is 
closely connected with the Sankhya, but postulates a personal 
God, and advocates an elaborate system of postures and 
ascetic exercises as helpful in enabling the soul to reach the 
highest truth. The Nydya philosophy deals with logic, but it 
is not so much a treatise of formal logic as an exposition of 
the way that salvation can be attained by the removal of false 
knowledge. The Vaiseshika presupposes a knowledge of the 
Nydya, and often goes over the same ground. It contains a 
theory of atoms. The smallest and invisible particles are 
eternal in themselves, but not eternal as aggregates. 

From the most ancient times there existed in India Brah- 
manic settlements, and in connection with them parishads , or 
assemblies of learned Brahmans, which gave decisions on all 
points connected with the Brahmanic religion and learning . 1 
In the Brihaddranyaka Upanis/iad we read that Svetaketu went 
to the parishad of the Panchalas . 2 Max Muller says 3 that 
according to modern writers a parishad ought to consist of 
twenty-one Brahmans, well versed in philosophy, theology, and 
law. But in early periods it seems that a smaller number was 
sufficient. Gautama says 4 that a parishad shall consist of at 

1 R. C. Dutt, Ancient India. 1 Brih. Ar. Up., vi. 2. 

3 Max Muller, Sans. Lit., pp. 128-132. 

4 Gautama, xxviii. 48-51. 



least the ten following members, namely, four men who have 
completely studied the four Vedas, three men belonging to the 
three orders enumerated first, and three men who know dif- 
ferent institutes of law. In Vasishtha 1 and Baudhayana it is 
said that it shall consist of four men who each know one of 
the four Vedas, a student of the Mimamsa , one who knows 
the Angas , one who recites the works on the sacred law, and 
three Brahmans belonging to three different orders. The 
regulations in Manu are as follows 2 : — 

‘ If it is asked how it should be with respect to points of 
the law which have not been specially mentioned, the answer 
is, that which Brahmans who are Sishtas propound, shall 
doubtlessly have legal force. Those Brahmans must be con- 
sidered as Sishtas who, in accordance with the sacred law, 
have studied the Veda together with its appendages, and are 
able to adduce proofs perceptible by the senses from the 
revealed texts. Whatever an assembly, consisting either of 
at least ten, or of at least three persons who follow their pre- 
scribed occupations, declares to be law, the legal force of 
that one must not dispute. Three persons who each know 
one of the three principal Vedas, a logician, a Mlmamsaka, 
one who knows the Nirukta, one who recites the Institutes of 
the sacred law, and three men belonging to the first three 
orders, shall constitute a legal assembly, consisting of at least 
ten members. One who knows the Rigveda , one who knows 
the Yaijirveda, and one who knows the Sdmaveda, shall be 
known to form an assembly consisting of at least three mem- 
bers and competent to decide doubtful points of law. Even 
that which one Brahman versed in the Veda declares to be 
law must be considered to have supreme legal force, but not 
that which is proclaimed by myriads of ignorant men.’ 

The ideal in ancient times thus seems to have been that 

1 Vas. iii. 20 ; Baudh. i. I, S -I 3 - 

1 Manu, xii. 108-1 13. 



the parishad should consist of at least ten persons, but a 
smaller number might be regarded as sufficient in case of 
necessity. Thus Pardsara , another ancient authority , 1 says 
that ‘ four or even three able men from amongst the Brah- 
mans in a village, who know the Veda and keep the sacri- 
ficial fire, form a parishad. Or if they do not keep the 
sacrificial fire, five or three who have studied the Vedas and 
the Vedangas, and know the law, may well form a parishad. 
Of old sages who possess the highest knowledge of the divine 
self, who are twice-born, perform sacrifices, and have purified 
themselves in the duties of the Veda, one also may be con- 
sidered as a parishad.' 

The composition of this assembly is interesting as showing 
how specialization in Vedic study had begun in very early 
times. Thus in Gautama, besides the four men who have 
completely studied the Veda — that is, men of the walking 
library type — there are those who know the different Dharma 
Sutras, besides the three representatives of the orders. In 
Vasishtha and Baudhayana the three specialists are a student 
of the Mimamsa, that is, one who knows the sacrificial rules, 
one who knows the Angas, and one who recites the works on 
the sacred law. In Manu those who know the Vedas are 
reduced to three, and the specialists are a logician, a Mlmam- 
saka, one who knows the Nirukta , and one who recites the 
Institutes of the sacred law. No doubt the exact composition 
of the parishad may have varied in different places, but the 
growth of specialization in studies seems to be clearly shown. 
The representatives of the three orders were a student, a 
householder, and a hermit, or according to some authorities a 
student, a householder, and an ascetic. 

These parishads were in some respects like judicial 
assemblies, and in others like ecclesiastical synods, but as 
those who composed them were most of them also teachers, 
1 Quoted by Max Miiller, Sans. Lit., pp. 128-132. 



they correspond to a certain extent to the associations of 
teachers in the Middle Ages of Europe which developed into 
universities. Thus not only were different faculties repre- 
sented, but even a student was a member of the panshad. 
The settlement of Brahmans proficient in different branches of 
the ancient learning in various centres must have meant the 
gathering together also of a number of students who were 
receiving instruction from them, and thus these parishads 
would form the nucleus of something corresponding to a 

This would be specially the case in some places where a 
large number of Brahman teachers were gathered together, 
like towns or monastic institutions. An instance of an early 
Brahmanic intellectual centre is Takshasila (or Taxila). This 
was the capital of Gandhara in North-West India, the native 
land of Panini, the grammarian, and its site is not far from 
the modern Rawalpindi. It was a stronghold of Brahmanic 
learning as early as the fourth or fifth century b.c. and perhaps 
earlier. Here at the time of Alexander’s invasion the Greeks 
first came into contact with the Brahman philosophers, and 
were astonished at their asceticism and strange doctrines. 
Many other centres of learning, as, for example, Benares, and 
Nadia, became famous in later times. In the Buddhist 
system of education it was the monastery, as will be shown, 
which was the centre of learning. Monasteries have never 
had such an important place in Hinduism as in Buddhism, 
but they have existed, and are still to be found. Among the 
most famous are the monasteries or mafhas founded by the 
great Vedantist scholar Sankaracharya 1 (born circ. 788 a.d.) 
at Sringeri, Badari, Dwaraka, and Puri. These institutions 
are still in existence. 2 The most celebrated of them is 

1 Sankaracharya was an exponent of the Advaita , or extreme monistic 
form of Vedanta philosophy. 

2 See Sri Sankaracharya, His Life and Times , by C. N. Krishnaswamy 
Aiyar, pp. 67-84. 




Sringeri in the Mysore state. Though primarily religious 
institutions they give, attention to the study of Sanskrit and of 
logic and the Vedanta philosophy. 

A development of the relation between teacher and pupil, 
which has already been sketched, was the exaltation of the 
teacher to such a position of reverence that he was worshipped 
by his pupil . 1 In the schools of the early Vedanta the teacher, 
or guru , was always one who was himself supposed to have 
reached emancipation, and thus to have come to the realiza- 
tion that he is Brahman. In his devotion, or bhakti, for 
Brahman it was but a short step for the pupil to feel bhakti 
also for the guru, who was thus identified with Brahman. 
This is referred to as early as the favetakvatara Upanishad 2 
(perhaps about the fourth century b.c.), but it received a great 
emphasis in all the chief bhakti sects (Vaishnava, Saiva, or 
other) from at least the seventh century a.d. In these the 
disciple is taught to worship his guru as God. This was of 
course an honour paid to a religious teacher, but it had an 
effect upon the relation of all pupils and teachers, and helps to 
explain the high respect which students of to-day have even 
for a teacher of secular subjects. 

Brahmanic education has continued from very early times 
right down to the present day, and throughout that long 
period, though there was some development and change, its 
salient features have remained the same. The long struggle 
with Buddhism ended in a triumph for the Brahmans, but 
not without their own system becoming modified, but it had 
little influence on the educational system. The rule of the 
Muhammadans was, on the whole, unfavourable towards 
Brahman learning, although it was patronized by Akbar 
and others. Some of the more ruthless, or more orthodox, 
of Muhammadan sovereigns destroyed Brahman places of 

1 See Farquhar, Crown of Hinduism, p. 402. 

" Svetas. Up., vi. 23. 


learning, and scattered their students, but in spite of this inter- 
ruption Brahman learning continued. 

Throughout the centuries since the Sutras were written the 
history of Brahmanic education is difficult to trace. There 
was probably very little development with regard to either 
theory or practice, and the subjects of the curriculum remained 
very much the same. The development of monastic institu- 
tions, and of guru worship, has already been referred to. In 
the Buddhist period the Brahmanic learning continued side by 
side with the Buddhist. The latter was indeed largely in- 
fluenced both in its ideals and practice by the Brahmanic 
education, and borrowed many of its text-books from the 
Brahmans, especially when the Buddhists adopted Sanskrit as 
a vehicle of instruction. The educational institutions of the 
Buddhists, like Nalanda, were at one period probably more 
influential and popular than those of the Brahmans. When the 
Muhammadan invasions burst upon India both Brahman and 
Buddhist educational institutions suffered severely, and those of 
the Buddhists gradually decayed and disappeared, a process 
which was helped by the assimilation of Buddhism in India 
with Hinduism. But the Brahman education continued in 
spite of difficulties, and as the Buddhist centres of learning 
decayed those of the Brahmans became more prominent. 

Brahman schools of Sanskrit learning were indeed scattered 
all over the land in numerous towns and villages. These 
institutions were known as tots. Sometimes in a town of 
special sanctity, or even of political importance, numbers of 
these to/s were established side by side and constituted a kind 
of university. Examples of these are Benares and Nadia. 

Nadia, or Navadvlpa (‘ New Island ’), was a town founded 
in 1063 a.d. by one of the Sen kings of Bengal. 1 In 1203 it 
was captured by the Muhammadans. From the earliest days 

1 See Nadia Gazetteer (Bengal District Gazetteers , No. 24), 1910, 
pp. 180 ff. ; also Adam's Reports, pp. 49 ff. 



the patronage of its Hindu rulers and its political importance, 
as well as also the sanctity of the site, attracted a large number 
of scholars who taught the Brahmanic learning to thousands 
of students, and this continued even when j Nadia lost its 
political importance. Among erudite teachers who taught in 
Nadia are Abdihodha Yogi, a pandit who is said to have 
founded there the first school of logic ; a subject for which 
Nadia has since been specially famous. Basudev Sarbabhauma, 
another of its famous savants, is said, while a pupil of 
Pakshadhar Misra, the first logician of Mithila, to have learnt 
by heart the whole of the treatise on logic. Among his dis- 
tinguished pupils were Raghunath Siromani, the author of the 
Didhiti , and the commentary on the Gautama Sutra ; Raghunan- 
dana Smarta Bhatacharya, the most renowned teacher of law in 
Bengal, whose school is followed even to this day throughout 
the whole province; Krishnananda Agambagis, whose work 
on Tantra philosophy is the standard book on the subject; 
and Gauranga, or Chaitanya, the leader of a great Vaishnava 
sect in the sixteenth century. 

A tol consists generally of a thatched chamber in which 
the pandit and the class meet, and a collection of mud hovels 
round a quadrangle, in which the students live in the simplest 
manner. Each student has his own hut, in which there is 
scarcely any furniture except his brass water-pot and mat. A 
student remains at the tol often for eight or ten years, accord- 
ing to whether he is studying law or logic. The pandit does 
not always live at the tol, but comes every day on which study 
takes place, from an early hour till sunset. The huts are 
built and repaired at his expense. No fees are charged, and 
until recent years the pandit even helped to provide his pupils 
with food and clothing. He himself obtained the necessary 
funds by grants and by the presents which his fame as a 
teacher ensured to him at^ religious ceremonies. The usual 
number of students in a tol is about twenty-five, though there 



may be more. These, in most cases, have no means of 
subsistence. The teacher provides them with shelter and 
free tuition, and food and clothes they obtain from him and 
also from shopkeepers and landholders and by begging at the 
chief festivals. 

At Nadia the chief study is logic, but law and grammar are 
also taught. Dialectical discussions are frequently held, and 
the ambition of the student is to gain success at one of these 
discussions held at a festival, and by adroit and hair-splitting 
arguments to silence his opponent. Professor Cowell, who 
visited the schools at Nadia in 1867, says : 1 ‘ I could not help 
looking at these unpretending lecture-halls with a deep interest, 
as I thought of the pandits lecturing there to generation after 
generation of eager, inquisitive minds. Seated on the floor 
with his “corona” of listening pupils round him, the teacher 
expatiates on those refinements of infinitesimal logic which 
make a European’s brain dizzy to think of, but whose laby- 
rinth a trained Nadia student will thread with unfaltering 
precision. I noticed during my visit middle-aged and even 
grey-haired men among the students.’ 

The number of tols and of students at Nadia seems to have 
fluctuated considerably. In 1816 there were said to be 
46 schools and 380 pupils; but in 1818, Ward estimated 
31 schools only, but as many as 747 students ; and in 1829 
H. H. Wilson found about 500 to 600 pupils. The numbers 
for more recent years are as follows: In 1864, 12 tols and 
150 pupils; in 1881, 20 tols and 100 pupils; in 1901, 40 
tols and 274 pupils; in 1908, 30 tols and 250 pupils. Of the 
31 schools which Ward found, 17 studied logic, n studied 
law, and the other 3 poetry, astronomy, and grammar 

William Ward gives us 2 some interesting sidelights on 

1 Quoted in Nadia Gazetteer , p. 182. 

2 Ward, ii. 483 ff. 



Brahmanic education as he found it, especially in Bengal, at 
the beginning of the nineteenth century. He says that Hindu 
colleges or schools were called ‘ Chutooshpathee ’, that is, the 
place where four sastras were studied. These four were 
grammar, law, the purdnas , and the darsanas (or philosophy). 
This word was corrupted to ‘Chouparee’. The places of 
learning were usually built of clay, and consisted sometimes of 
three rooms and sometimes of eight or ten, in two rows, with 
a reading-room open on all sides at the farther end. These 
huts were frequently erected at the expense of the teacher, 
who not only solicited alms to raise the building, but also to 
feed his pupils. Ward says that three kinds of Brahmanic 
schools existed in Bengal. In the first, grammar and poetry 
as well as the purdnas and smritis were studied ; in the 
second kind the law works and the purdnas-, and in the third 
the Nydya Darsana, or logic. Select works were read and 
explained, but there was no instruction by lectures. The 
lessons were committed to memory and then explained by the 
teacher. In other parts of India, he says, colleges were 
not common, but individuals at their houses taught grammar, 
and mendicant Brahmans taught the Vedas and other Sastras 
at the mathas, or monastic^institutions, where they rested. No 
fees were received from the pupils, but they received presents 
from them. Unless patronized by a rich man the subsistence 
of the teacher was in most cases a scanty one. Pupils were 
generally over twelve years of age, and were generally main- 
tained by their parents, and resided either at the college or at 
the house of some neighbour. In Benares Ward found 83 
mathas and 1371 pupils. The average number of pupils to 
each teacher was 16 or 17. Some of these schools studied 
the Veda, some only grammar, some studied poetry, some the 
Vedanta, some logic and law, and some astronomy. Ward 
also gives lists of schools at Nadia and Calcutta, and 
mentions many other places where Sanskrit schools existed. 



With regard to libraries, he says that some colleges contained 
as many as ten, and others as many as forty or fifty volumes. 
Like students in other parts of the world these Brahmanic 
pupils were not always ideal in their behaviour, and Ward 
mentions their extravagance, night frolics, robbing of orchards, 
and other misdemeanours. With regard to the motives which 
led to pupils undergoing this form of education, he says that 
learned Brahmans were more esteemed by the Hindus than 
ignorant ones, and received more costly presents. Offices 
under Government also were open to those Brahmans who had 
a knowledge of the ancient law. Moreover, those who were 
going to perform the priestly rites for Hindu families needed 
at least some knowledge of Hindu learning. 

With regard to the old Brahmanic education as it exists in 
India to-day, the last Quinquennial Review of Education in 
India states 1 that in 1912 there existed 1178 private Sanskrit 
schools. Most of these would be schools of the old type. 
They had decreased from 1630 in 1907. la Fosse, 
speaking of the United Provinces, is quoted as saying, 2 
‘ Sanskrit pathshalas of the indigenous type . . . are, generally 
speaking, rather poorly attended. They are to be found where 
the number of the Brahman population is sufficient to create 
a demand for the learning of a little Sanskrit and Hindu 
astrology. The pupils seem to spend their time in casting 
horoscopes, or divining auspicious days and times for com- 
mencing occupations. The schools may be classed as pro- 
fessional, for the scholars are destined to earn their livelihood 
by presiding at or helping in the performance of those re- 
ligious ceremonies which make up so large a part of the life 
of the orthodox Hindu villager. In some a little Hindi is 
taught and also writing, but not much attention is paid to this 
side of the work.’ 

At the present time the spread of education on Western 
1 Vol. ii. p. 289. . ? Vol. i. p. 272. 

5 6 


lines has meant that the majority even of Brahman youths 
who wish for an education that will give them the opportunity 
of obtaining good employment have forsaken the old system 
of learning ; but it is still to be found, although the extent of 
its operations has been considerably curtailed. It is rare 
indeed to find those who pass through all the four stages of 
student, householder, hermit, and wandering ascetic ; but it is 
interesting to find that not only does the rite of initiation 
still take place, but that it preserves some at least of the 
features of early times in its outward ceremonies. Thus 1 in 
the performance of the ceremony in some parts of India 
to-day, it is the custom to light a sacred fire which is kept 
alight during the days that the ceremony lasts and is fed with 
the twigs of certain trees. The father of the youth takes the 
place of the teacher, and when the sacred cord is put on, it 
has attached to it a bit of skin of a deer, if procurable. This 
seems to be a relic of the old custom of Brahmanic students 
wearing certain skins as part of their dress. After the initia- 
tion the father at once proceeds to teach the boy the gdyatrl 
prayer, and after initiation the novice .begins to ask alms of 
those present. He is also instructed during these days in the 
morning, midday, and evening prayers and other ceremonies. 
Thus the initiation of the brahmachari is still carried out very 
much as it was in India more than two thousand five hundred 
years ago, though it is not, except in a few cases, followed by 
the actual study of the Vedas and the accompanying sciences. 

In ancient times probably most Brahmans passed through 
the period of studentship, but they did not necessarily all 
become teachers, and in Manu certain other occupations are 
admitted as allowable for a Brahman. With regard to Ksha- 
triyas and Vai6yas, who were also eligible for studentship, it 
is impossible to say how many of them really undertook the 
responsibilities of this position. As shown elsewhere, it is 
1 J. E. Padfield, The Hindu at Home, pp. 68 ft'. 



probable that for them the study of the Veda was something 
far less serious than for young Brahmans, and the duties which 
they had to perform in life must have necessitated their receiv- 
ing the education suitable for their special callings before they 
became adults. Probably they tended less and less to attend 
the Brahmanic schools, and vocational schools, or at least 
domestic training, for their future duties in life were developed. 
The Sudras were always shut out from Brahmanic education, 
and they also developed their own system of training for the 
young craftsman. The popular system of education, which 
will be noticed in a later chapter, also grew up to meet a need 
for which the Brahmanic schools made no provision. 

Some of the ideals of the ancient Brahmanic education will 
be discussed further in a separate chapter, as well as the 
causes of its decline, but reviewing it briefly as a whole, one 
may say that, like the Muhammadan education with which it 
has many points of similarity, it was at least not inferior to the 
education of Europe before the Revival of Learning. Not 
only did the Brahman educators develop a system of educa- 
tion which survived the crumbling of empires and the changes 
of society, but they also, through all these thousands of years, 
kept aglow the torch of higher-learning, and numbered amongst 
them many great thinkers who have left their mark not only 
upon the learning of India, but upon the intellectual life of the 



The early Vedic schools for the training of priests seem to 
have been confined to the youths of the priestly class, and the 
Brahmans kept in their families the ancient literature which 
formed the basis of all higher education. Even in quite early 
times, however, it is evident that some of the non-Brahmans 
attained to a high degree of notoriety as men of wisdom. 
There is, for example, a certain king Janaka, of Videha , 1 who 
is referred to in the Brahmanas and the Upanishads as gain- 
ing distinction in debates with learned Brahmans. Other 
royal sages also are mentioned, like Chitra Gangyayani 2 and 
Ajatasatru , 3 who were able to give Brahmans instruction on 
deep questions of philosophy. In early days such instruction 
as the young Kshatriyas and V ai£yas received would presum- 
ably be given by their fathers and confined to teaching them 
the duties of their particular calling in life. It probably 
marks the growing power of the Brahmans that at some time 
the training of the young Kshatriyas and Vaisyas came into 
their hands, and it became the exclusive privilege of the 
Brahman caste to give instruction. Even at the time when 
the hymns of the Rigveda were being composed it was the 
custom for the chieftains or nobles to have a Brahman as a 

1 Satapatha Brahmana, xi. 6, 2 , io. 

■ K mishit aki Up., i. 

* Brih. Ar. Up., ii. I 


domestic priest or chaplain, called a purohita ,’ and it is easy 
to see how the instruction of the sons of his patron would 
come under his care, and that this system would gradually be 
extended to all the Aryan youth as the power of the Brahman 
priesthood increased. 

By the time that the earliest Dharmasutras which are 
extant were composed ( circa 500 b.c.) the system was in full 
working order, and it had become customary 2 for Kshatriyas 
and Vaisyas, as well as for Brahmans, to be initiated with. the 
sacred thread as a preliminary to entering upon the period of 
school life under Brahman teachers, which was to occupy at 
least twelve years. The difference in the time of initiation, 
and of dress to be worn by the three ‘ twice-born ' castes, has 
already been referred to in the previous chapter. 3 The later 
age at which the Kshatriyas and Vaisyas were supposed to 
start their schooling must be taken to indicate that its character 
was for them somewhat different from the instruction which 
the young Brahman received. The latter was at school to be 
prepared for his future vocation as a priest and a teacher, and 
much that he would require to know would not only be useless 
to the youths of the other castes, but it is not likely that the 
Brahmans would wish to communicate all the mysteries of 
their priestly office to them. For the Kshatriyas and Vaisyas, 
‘studying the Veda’ must have meant much less than for the 
Brahmans. It may have included the memorizing of the 
Vedic hymns, and an acquaintance with the philosophic teach- 
ing of the Upanishads, and certain parts of the six Angas , 
such as were necessary for the understanding of the Vedic 
texts, or for an acquaintance with duties to be performed in 
their subsequent life. It was also for them, as well as for the 
Brahmans, regarded as a time of Cnrama or discipline, and a 
stage in the preparation for the life after death. 

1 Rigveda, i. 1. 

3 Gautama, i. ; Apast., i. 1. 

3 See pp 28 ff. 


Warriors. — It seems most likely that as time went on the 
* study of the Veda ’ for the Kshatriyas and Vaisyas became 
still more attenuated, and that their education was more and 
more confined to those subjects which had a more direct 
bearing on their future calling. It has been shown in the 
previous chapter how the special schools of law, grammar, etc., 
began to grow out of the six Angas , somewhere about the fifth 
century b.c. The Dharmasutras are connected with kalpa, 1 
and they contain not only the beginnings of law afterwards 
developed in the Dharmahdstras , but also instruction on the 
duties of the king. This was no doubt the germ of the' science 
of politics which was afterwards developed in the works 
known as Nltisdstras and Arthasdstras. 

In the Dharmasutras of Apastamba, Baudhayana, and 
Vasishtha there is no mention of the subjects to be studied 
by the king, but in Gautama 2 it is said that he shall be * fully 
instructed in the threefold sacred science and in logic ’. 3 It 
further says 4 5 6 that the administration of justice shall be by 
the Veda, the Dharmasdstrap the Angas , and the Pur dinap so 
that it may be presumed that the royal princes were expected 
to become acquainted with these also during their period of 
schooling. A knowledge of the use of arms and of military 
skill was, of course, necessary, and a great deal of the time of 
the young Kshatriyas must have been given to learning their 
duties as warriors. Already in the hymns of the Rigveda there 
is a passage 7 which appears to refer to military combats 

1 I.e . ‘ceremonial and religious practices’ (see p. 42). 

2 Gautama, xi. I. 

3 Ibid., xi. 3. The word translated ‘logic’ is dnvikshiki , as in 
Ar/haedstra, ii. (see p. 63). 

4 Gautama, xi. 19. 

5 Bidder considers this word as probably an interpolation, for it was 
included in the Angas as part of Kalpa. 

6 Parana, i.e. ancient legendary tales. 

7 Rigveda, iv. 42, 5. 



amongst young warriors, and as the Kshatriyas became marked 
off from the other castes as those whose function it was to fight 
for their protection, the practice of arms must have become 
more highly specialized. In the Mahabharata x we read 2 how 
the young Panclu and Kuru princes were instructed in the 
various kinds of military skill. This included fighting on 
horseback and on elephants, in chariots and on the ground. 
The weapons used were the club, the sword, the lance, the 
spear, the dart, and above all the bow. The preceptor of 
these young princes in the use of arms is said to have been 
not, as we might have supposed, a Kshatriya warrior, but a 
learned Brahman named Drona. The purpose of the author 
may have been to exalt the dignity of the Brahman caste by 
showing how the Kshatriyas learned even their own special 
functions from the Brahmans. In the Ramdyana 3 of Valmlki 
we read with regard to Rama and his brothers 4 — 

‘ And among all those princes, the eldest, Rama, like unto 
Ketu, and the special delight of his father, became the object 
of general regard, even as the self-create Himself. And all 
of them were versed in the Vedas, and heroic, and intent upon 
the welfare of others. And all were accomplished in know- 
ledge, and endowed with virtues, and among them all, the 
exceedingly puissant Rama, having truth for prowess, was the 
desire of every one, and spotless like unto the Moon himself. 
He could ride on elephants and horses, and was an adept in 
managing cars (chariots), and he was ever engaged in the 
study of arms and aye occupied in ministering unto his sire. 
. . . Those best of men, ever engaged in the study of the 
Vedas, were accomplished in the art of archery, and always 
intent upon ministering unto their father.’ 

1 The original germ of this epic dates from about the fifth century n.C., 
but it contains vast additions of post-Christian times. 

3 M. N. Dutt’s translation, pp. 190 f. 

3 Original germ circa £ 00 B.c. 

1 M. N. Dutt’s translation, Balakandam, pp. 51 f. 


This extract brings out what seem to be the chief aims of 
education in the case of the young Kshatriyas in early times, 
namely, the study of the Vedas, military skill, and right moral 
conduct. There is no mention of any other special training 
for the performance of their royal duties, but silence in a work 
of this kind is of little value as evidence. 

At some time, however, between 500 b.c. and the rise of 
the Mauryan dynasty (321 b.c.) there seems to have been a 
considerable development of Kshatriya education. The science 
of politics had grown up, and much more attention was given 
to fitting young princes for the duties of their high office. We 
have a valuable picture of this education in the Arthasdsfra of 
Kautilya. The number of authorities whose different opinions 
he quotes and sometimes refutes shows how the science of 
politics had developed, and amongst other things there was a 
considerable interest as to what was the best kind of education 
for a young prince to receive. It is not impossible that this 
development in royal education may have been a result of the 
desire of some Indian rulers to improve the efficiency of their 
kingdoms in view of the possibilities of Persian invasion from 
the west, for the Indus valley had been annexed and formed 
into a satrapy by Darius (521-485 b.c.), and the raid of 
Alexander (327-324 b.c.) would have stimulated this desire. 
But whether this was so or not, it seems certain that a con- 
siderable development of royal education took place about 
this period. 

The Arthakdstra of Kautilya 1 is ascribed to Kautilya, also 
known as Chanakya, the Brahman who overthrew the Nanda 
dynasty and placed Chandragupta Maurya on the throne. 
If he was the author, the work would be dated somewhere 
between 321 and 296 b.c. The authenticity, 2 however, has 
been disputed, and the book may have been based on the 

1 Translated by Mr. R. Shamasastry. 

- For authenticity, see Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, 1916, p. 130. 


6 3 

teaching of Kautilya, although not by his hand, and belong 
in its present form perhaps to the first century b.c., while 
incorporating older matter. In any case it is a remarkable 
document, and throws a most valuable light on the system 
of administration and social life at the time of the Mauryan 
Empire. It is a manual of political science, Machiavellian 
in its principles, for the use of kings, and amongst other 
things outlines an educational programme for royal princes. 

Kautilya holds 1 that there are four sciences which should 
be included in the royal education. These are Anvtkshiki , 
the triple Vedas, Vdrta, and Dandaniti. Anvtkshiki is defined 
as comprising the Sdnkhya, Yoga, and Lokdyata philosophies. 
Vdrta includes a knowledge of agriculture, cattle-breeding, 
and trade. Dandaniti is the science of government, including 
a knowledge of criminal law. It seems, however, that the 
authorities were not agreed as to the number of the sciences 
to be taught, and though Kautilya holds that the four sciences 
mentioned above should be studied, he says that others held 
different opinions. The school of Manu (Manava) held that 
philosophy was only a special branch of Vedic study, and that, 
therefore, there were only three sciences to be studied. The 
school of Brihaspati held that there were only two sciences, 
Vdrta and Daqdariiti, for Veda study, they said, was ‘only an 
abridgment for a man experienced in temporal affairs ’, which 
means, presumably, that a young prince or Kshatriya would 
not have the time to obtain more than a very casual acquaint- 
ance with the Vedas. The school of Usanas declared that 
there was only one science, the science of Dandaniti , all others 
having their beginning in that. 

Having thus outlined the curriculum, Kautilya in another 
chapter 2 gives some further particulars with regard to his 
scheme of education. Although he admits four sciences as 
enumerated above, he says that the first three are dependent 

1 Artha&aslra , ch. ii. 8 Ibid . , ch. v. 


on Dandaniti, for Danda (punishment), which alone can 
procure safety and security of life, is, in its turn, dependent on 

‘ Discipline,’ he says, ‘ is of two kinds : artificial and 
natural ; for instruction can render only a docile being con- 
formable to the rules of discipline, and not an undocile being. 
The study of sciences can tame only those who are possessed 
of such mental faculties as obedience, hearing, grasping, 
retentive memory, discrimination, inference, and deliberation, 
but not others devoid of such faculties.’ By natural disci- 
pline he means, it would seem, the discipline which arises 
from the docility of the pupil ; for those who have not this 
there is the artificial discipline of punishment. 

‘ Sciences,’ he continues, ‘ shall be studied, and their pre- 
cepts strictly observed under the authority of specialist 
teachers. Having undergone the ceremony of tonsure, the 
student shall learn the alphabet and arithmetic. After investi- 
ture with the sacred thread, he shall study the triple Vedas, 
the science of Anvikshikl under teachers of acknowledged 
authority, the science of Vdrta under Government superinten- 
dents, and the science of Dandaniti under theoretical and 
practical politicians.’ 

It would seem from this that the last two studies were to 
be learnt in very close contact with their practice in actual 

With regard to the length of the course we are told 
that ‘ the prince shall observe celibacy till he becomes 
sixteen years old. Then he shall observe the ceremony of 
tonsure and marry’. If the investiture with the sacred thread 
took place in accordance with the regulations given in the 
Dharmasutras in the eleventh year after conception, the 
course would thus last six years, which is much shorter than 
the twelve years prescribed as necessary for the Brahmachdrl 
to learn one Veda. It is, of course not impossible that the 


study of Varta and Dandaniti at least may have been con- 
tinued even after marriage. 

During the period of study the young prince was to be 
placed under the strict supervision of his teachers. ‘ In main- 
taining efficient discipline he shall ever and invariably keep 
company with aged professors of sciences in whom alone 
discipline has its firm root.’ 

The hours of study were thus planned out. ‘ He shall 
spend the forenoon in receiving lessons in military arts con- 
cerning elephants, horses, chariots, and weapons, and the 
afternoon in hearing the Itihasa’. Itihasa is said to include 
Parana, Itivntta (history), Akhyayika (tales), Udaharana 
(illustrative stories), Dharmasdstra, and Arthasastra. The 
first four would include mythological and epic tales, and 
those moral fables and stories such as were collected (after- 
wards) in the Panchatantra and the Hitopadesa . 1 The last 
two include what would now be termed law and political 
science, and would cover the theoretical parts of Varta and 

1 During the rest of the day and nights he shall not only 
receive new lessons and revise old lessons, but also hear over 
and again what has not been clearly understood.’ 

It is curious that in this outline of the day’s work there is no 
mention of the study of the Veda or philosophy. One cannot 
help wondering, in spite of the opinion of Kautilya that they 
should be included in the programme of studies, whether they 
received very serious attention in the case of the young 

Kautilya goes on to say that ‘ from hearing ensues know- 
ledge ; from knowledge steady application (yoga) is possible ; 
and from application, self-possession ( atmavattd ) is possible. 
This is what is meant by efficiency in learning ( vidyasdmar - 
thyam). The king who is well educated and disciplined in 
1 See p. 68. 


sciences, devoted to good government of his subjects, and 
bent on doing good to all people, will enjoy the earth 

The programme of education thus outlined is by no means 
an unworthy scheme for the education of a young prince. It 
shows the wonderful powers which these early Brahman educa- 
tors had of adapting their system to the needs of the pupils, 
and of devising a vocational training for the sons of noble 
families. It is not clear whether this -education was confined 
to those who were the scions of ruling houses or whether other 
young Kshatriyas shared in its advantages, but it would seem 
not unlikely that noble families would seek to give their sons 
an education at least approximating to that which princes 

In the Law of Manu, which is considered to date, in its 
present form, from about 200 a . d ., though based on an older 
Mdnava Dharrna Sutra , it is said with regard to the education 
of a king, 1 ‘From those versed in the three Vedas let him learn 
the threefold sacred science, the primeval science of govern- 
ment, the science of dialectics, and the knowledge of the 
supreme Soul, from the people the theory of the various 
trades and professions ’. According to the Arthakastra 2 3 the 
school of Manava held that there were three sciences to be 
studied, namely, the Vedas and the philosophy based on them, 
the science of government ( Dan dam ti ), and agriculture and 
trade ( Vdrta ), so that these three are presumably covered by 
the subjects mentioned in the Law of Manu. 

It is to be presumed that, as in the ordinary Brahmanic 
study, the work was based on a knowledge of the grammar 
of the Sanskrit language. The story contained in the Katha- 
sarit-sagara z of the king who did not know his Sanskrit 

1 Manu, vii. 43. 

2 See p. 63. 

3 Kd tha-sa rit-saga ra , Tar. vi. 108-164. 


grammar seems to show that some royal pupils did not 
always find it easy to master all its intricacies. 

With regard to text-books those used in the ordinary 
Brahman schools for Vedic study would serve also for the 
Kshatriyas in so far as they studied the same subjects, but 
there were two developments which arose to meet the needs 
of the special training required by them. We have already 
referred to the Nltisastra or Arthasdstra as a manual of 
political science. The Arthasdstra of Kautilya, from which 
we have quoted above, is an example, and there were probably 
many which have not survived. This Arthakdstra contains a 
detailed account of the duties of the king and of his officials, 
and of the way the administration was carried on, and in 
connection with the work of the superintendents of different 
departments contains a good deal of information with regard 
to agriculture and trade, and thus included probably what was 
to be taught to the princes under the heading of Vdrta. It 
also contains several chapters on the military science of those 
days. The Nitisara, or Essence of Conduct , is a metrical 
treatise by an author named Kamandaka. It is evidently 
based on the teaching of the Arthasdstra of Kautilya, and 
contains in a condensed form many of the principles of policy 
taught in the Arthasdstra. It belongs to about the third 
century a.d., or perhaps later. But the Brahman preceptors, 
finding perhaps that their royal or noble pupils did not always 
take kindly to the effort of studying the political wisdom of 
the Arthasdstra , devised the plan of using fables and stories as 
a vehicle for the teaching of this science. ‘ It 1 is a combina- 
tion highly characteristic of a civilization of which the two 
most important features were the intellectual passion and 
subtlety of the Brahman Schools on the one hand, and the 
village life of a humorous people on the other.’ The Pa?i- 
chatantra existed in the first half of the sixth century a.d., but 
1 J.R.A.S., 1910, pp. 966 ff. 


the Tatitrdkhyayikd , which is considered to be its most 
original and earliest form, was composed many centuries 
earlier. 1 It is introduced with the story of a certain king 
who had three particularly idle and stupid sons. He wished 
to find a teacher for them, and at last met with a certain 
Brahman, who promised in six months to give the young 
princes such instruction that they should surpass all others 
in the knowledge of right conduct. For the accomplishment 
of his object he composed the Panchatantra. It consists 
of a series of fables which illustrate various points of moral 
conduct, and expose many human vices, like the intriguing of 
courtiers and the faithlessness of women. The Brahmans 
themselves do not escape satire, which is levelled, for example, 
against their avarice and hypocrisy. The Hitopadesa is a 
similar collection of fables, later than the Panchatantra , on 
which it is based, but the date of which is quite uncertain. 2 
There are also other collections of fables like them, as, for 
instance, the Kathd-sarit-sdgara. The Mahdbhdrata contains 
a great deal of didactic material embedded in the story, and 
this may also have been used in the instruction of young 
nobles. For stories of heroes they had the epic poems like 
the Mahdbhdrata and the Ramayana , and at a later date 
there were in Rajasthan many bards who wrote in verse 
chronicles of the deeds of heroes. These bardic chronicles 
begin about 700 a.d., and were composed in the vernacular. 

This education was kept by the Brahmans closely in their 
hands, and the various Sutras and Sastras, which have come 
down to us, written, of course, by Brahmans, again and again 
insist on the duty of the Kshatriyas to protect and give 
honour to the Brahmans. It was forbidden to a Kshatriya 
to teach, 3 and though the injunction in Manu that the king 

1 J.R.A.S. , 1910, pp. 966 ff. Dr. Hertel thinks between 300 B.c. 
and 570 A.D., and nearer the earlier limit. Dr. F. W. Thomas says at 
least as old as 300 a.d. 

■ Before 1400 a.d. 

3 Manu, x. 77. 



should learn 1 ‘ from the people the theory of the various 
trades and professions ’ seems to imply that in the subject 
of Varta others besides Brahmans might be called in to 
give instruction to the young princes, and this would seem 
probable also in the matter of military skill, yet Brahman 
control dominated throughout. The king was in fact prac- 
tically enjoined to regard himself as a pupil even after he 
had assumed his position as a ruler. Thus in Kautilya’s 
Arthasdstra 2 we are told — 

‘ Him whose family and character are highly spoken of, 
who is well educated in the Vedas and the six Angas, is 
skilful in reading portents providential or accidental, is well 
versed in the science of government, and who is obedient, 
and who can prevent calamities providential or human by 
performing such expiatory rites as are prescribed in the 
Atharvaveda , the king shall employ as high priest. As a 
student his teacher, a son his father, and a servant his master, 
the king shall follow him. That Kshatriya breed which is 
brought up by Brahmans, is charmed with the counsels of good 
councillors, and which faithfully follows the precepts of the 
Sastras , becomes invincible, and attains success though unaided 
with weapons.’ 

The important position and authority thus claimed for 
the preceptor of the prince was no doubt influenced and 
intensified by the tendency in the Brahmanic schools, which 
we have noticed in a previous chapter , 3 to exalt the teacher 
to such a position that he was regarded as an object of 
worship. It is quite possible that some rulers may have 
shaken themselves free from such a position, but the insti- 
tution of the purohita , to whom was entrusted the religious, 
moral, and intellectual education of the young princes and 

1 Manu, vii: 43. 

- Arthaidstra, ch. ix. p. ! 7. 

3 P. 50. 


nobles, continued down to very recent times. Tod, in his 
accounts of Rajasthan j in referring to these purohitas gives 
rather a bad opinion of them, as men who took advantage of 
their position to get gain for themselves by working on the 
superstition of their employers. There were, no doubt, many 
such, who made use of their office to get wealth and honours 
from the king, or nobleman, who employed them. But we 
need not suppose that this was generally the case, and pro- 
bably many of them were men of high character, whose 
moral influence on their pupils was distinctly good. India 
has had many famous rulers, who were educated under this 
system, and many who attained also to literary merit. Among 
the latter we must mention King Harsha (606 to 648 a.d.), 
to whom several plays and verse compositions have been 
ascribed. 2 As, however, in the case of the Brahmanic edu- 
cation, the system of training the young Kshatriyas tended to 
become stereotyped, and to look too much to the authority of 
the past for its ideals and practice, and thus it failed to preserve 
its vitality as an educational force. 

Among the noble warriors of India there grew up a spirit 
of chivalry, very much like that which prevailed in Europe 
in the Middle Ages. William Ward, 3 referring to a work in 
Sanskrit on the military arts called Dhanur Veda , says, ‘ It 
was contrary to the laws of war to smite a warrior overcome 
by another, or one who had turned his back, or who was 
running away ; or one fearful, or he who had asked for 
quarter, or he who had declined further fighting, or one 
unarmed; or a single charioteer who had alone survived in 
the engagement ; or one deranged ; or females, children, or 
old men ’. There were certain rules also with regard to 
combats. In fighting, for instance, with the club, it was 

* Tod’s Rajasthan , 407. 

■ V. A. Smith, Early Hist, of India (and ed.), p. 316 ; Macdonell’s 
Sanskrit Literature , pp. 361 f. 

3 Ward, ii. 461. 



unlawful to strike below the navel. Wrestling seems to have 
been popular in India, and still is at the present day. Many 
wrestling schools exist which have strict rules as to what 
is considered allowable. Tod 1 mentions that amongst the 
Rajput tribes, which were organized on a kind of feudal basis, 
youthful candidates were initiated to military fame in much 
the same way as young men in Europe in the Middle Ages 
became knights. The ceremony of initiation was called ‘ kharg 
bandai ’, or binding of the sword, and took place when the young 
Rajput was considered fit to bear arms. At this ceremony 
the young warrior was presented with a lance, and his sword 
was buckled to his side. The spirit of chivalry thus incul- 
cated must have set before these young nobles a high ideal 
of valour and virtue, and this is reflected in the epic stories 
and in the bardic chronicles of Rajasthan, which contain 
many stories of noble deeds and knightly heroism. The 
typical warrior hero of India is found in Rama, whose story 
is told not only in the Sanskrit Rdmayana of Valmlki, but in 
many vernacular imitations, of which the most famous is the 
Hindi Rdmayana of TulsI Das (or Ram Charit Manas), which 
was written about 1600 a.d. Indian authors never tire of 
telling the story of this hero again and again, and although it 
is possible to criticize many points in Rama’s character, it 
certainly holds forth a high ideal of life and virtue. 

We may say that the education of the young Indian nobles 
was not inferior to that of the European knights in the times 
of chivalry, and was very much like it in many respects. The 
note of personal ambition and of adventure for adventure’s 
sake seems much less prominent in the Indian ideal than in 
the European, and perhaps hardly existed, and the gentler 
virtues such as patience and filial devotion were much more 
emphasized, as we see in the story of Rama. The idea that 
the king and the nobles had a duty to perform to society in 

1 Tod, 63, 512. 


the protection of the weak, and that their position was not 
one so much of glory and of ease as of service to others, is 
very prominent. No doubt many of them failed to live up 
to this noble ideal, but in formulating it and holding it before 
the rising generation of young Kshatriyas, India has much of 
which to be proud. 

Agricultural and Trading Classes . — As in the case of the 
Kshatriyas, the control of the education of the VaiSyas, or 
trading and agricultural class amongst the Aryans, early came 
under Brahman control. Thus we find in the earliest extant 
Sutras 1 that the Vaisyas, as well as the Brahmans and Ksha- 
triyas, were expected to receive initiation as a preliminary to 
entering upon the study of the Veda; and in Manu it is said, 2 
‘ Let the three twice-born castes, discharging their prescribed 
duties, study the Veda We have seen how in the case of the 
Kshatriyas the study of the Veda was attenuated, or perhaps 
we may say that it was developed by specialization in certain 
directions to meet the special needs of the young nobles and 
warriors. With regard to the Vaisyas, 3 trade, rearing cattle, 
and agriculture were regarded as their special pursuits, and in 
fitting themselves for these they would have less benefit from 
the Vedic schools than the Kshatriyas had for their future 
vocation. It would seem likely that the study of the Veda 
became more attenuated for them than even for the Ksha- 
triyas, and that at a quite early date the majority of them 
ceased to avail themselves of their privilege of attending the 
Brahmanic schools, except perhaps for a very short period. 
In the Law of Manu 4 the functions of a Vaisya are thus 
described : ‘ A Vaisya must never conceive this wish, “ I will 
not keep cattle ”, and if a Vaisya is willing to keep them, 
they must never be kept by men of other castes. A Vaisya 
must know the respective value of gems, of pearls, of corals, 

1 Gautama, i. 
3 Ibid . , x. 79. 

2 Manu, x. i. 

4 Ibid., ix. 328-332. 



of metals, of cloth made of thread, of perfumes, and of con- 
diments. He must be acquainted with the manner of sowing 
seeds, and of the good and bad qualities of fields, and he 
must perfectly know all measures and weights. Moreover, 
the excellence and defects of commodities, the advantages 
and disadvantages of different countries, the probable profit 
and loss on merchandise, and tl}e means of properly rearing 
cattle. He must be acquainted with the proper wages of 
servants, with the various languages of men, with the manner 
of keeping goods, and the rules of purchase and sale The 
duties thus outlined would require that a young Vaisya, besides 
a knowledge of agriculture, should also know the rudiments 
of commercial geography, arithmetic, and some languages, 
as well as the practical details of trade. With regard to 
these subjects it is probable that at first they were learnt by 
the boy from his father in the course of business, and pro- 
bably amounted in most cases to little more than the minimum 
which would be necessary for the successful carrying on of the 
particular trade in which he was engaged. Thus a knowledge 
of ‘ the various languages of men ’ need not have meant 
more than a slight acquaintance with the speech of foreigners 
with whom trade brought him into touch, picked up in his 
intercourse with them, and a knowledge of ‘ the advantages 
and disadvantages of different countries’ would be gathered 
in the same way. Thus the education of the young Vaisya, 
apart from his study of the Veda, would at the earliest period, 
as a rule, be domestic, and he would learn from his father 
in the actual course of business. It is to be noted, however, 
that there exist in India at the present time what are called 
mahajani schools. These schools exist in several market 
towns where the mahajans , or traders, have combined to pay 
a teacher. They teach chiefly the special kind of writing 
used by the mahajans and arithmetic, and give sufficient 
education to enable a boy to help his father afterwards in 


trade. These schools are amongst the indigenous primary 
schools which will be referred to in a later chapter. They 
have probably existed from old times, but like so many 
things in India, it is difficult to say whether they are really 
very ancient or not. But whenever they started it must have 
been because the traders found it more satisfactory for a 
boy to have acquired some education before he began actual 
work in the shop. It is not impossible that the indigenous 
primary schools started in this way. Of this more will be 
said later. They are evidence that the Brahmanic schools 
failed to supply the real needs of the community even in the 
matter of teaching reading and writing, and that other castes 
felt compelled to start more useful schools of their own. 

Craftsmen . — As time went on the original four castes of 
early times became very greatly divided and subdivided. The 
Brahman and Kshatriya castes still held their position, but 
the Vaisyas became mingled with the masses of the surround- 
ing population. In course of ages the number of castes 
became very numerous, and specially all those engaged in 
particular occupations became separated from others as 
castes. There came to be, for example, castes of carpenters, 
tailors, goldsmiths, and large numbers of others similar. In 
modern times a man does not always follow the profession or 
trade of his particular caste, but in ancient times probably all, 
or almost all, did so. The technical and professional skill 
developed in each caste was passed on from generation to 

India is a land of villages, and even at the present day 
with a growing commercial activity it is said that nine-tenths 
of the population live in villages. Each village is usually an 
agricultural community 1 more or less self-contained. But 
craftsmen are needed by the husbandman, so besides the 
farmers and agricultural labourers there dwell in each village 

1 See The India7i Craftsman , A. K. Coomaraswamy, ch. i. 



certain artisans and others. In addition to the Brahman 
priest and jyotishi , or astrologer, there may be carpenter, 
blacksmith, potter, and washerman. Others who are present 
may be the barber (who also performs some surgical opera- 
tions), the scavenger, the tailor, the leather worker, the gold- 
smith, and so on. These craftsmen have certain privileges, 
and are entitled to certain payments in grain from the farmer 
for their services. The position of these persons and the 
manner of their payment varies in different parts of India, 
but the same features are everywhere found. 

Some of the occupations are very ancient. In the 
Rigveda Samhitd 1 the following are mentioned : carpenter, 
physician, priest, blacksmith, poet, female grinder of corn. 
The construction of chariots is often alluded to, and the Ribhus 
are mentioned as celebrated workers in wood and metal. 
Weaving, boat-building, leather-working, agriculture, and irri- 
gation are also referred to. 

It was the villages which were the strongholds of the 
traditionary arts and crafts of India, but many of the crafts- 
men also lived in towns . 2 Here those employed in the 
same occupation were drawn together in trade guilds. Some- 
times the craftsmen of a particular trade all belong to one 
caste, in which case the bonds which unite them are very 
strong indeed, and no outsider would be admitted. But 
where the same trade is pursued by men of different castes 
the guild may bring them together, and, though membership 
is hereditary, newcomers can be admitted by paying a fee, 
but no unqualified person is allowed to remain in the guild, 
or to become a member of it. There are no indentures of 
apprenticeship, but a boy born in one of the castes learns the 
particular craft from his father, and eventually takes the place 

1 Muir, Original Sanskrit Texts , v. 464; Rigveda, ix. 1 12 ; i. no, 3 ; 

i. in, 1. 

s See The Industrial Arts of India, Sir Geo. Birdwood, pp. 131 ff. ; 
Coomaraswamy, ch. ii. 


of his father as a member of the guild. The guild raises 
funds, chiefly by fines, which are spent mostly in charities. 
The hours of work are regulated, and also the amount to be 
done, and in old times the guild also controlled the standard 
of quality both of material and design. The guild is also a 
kind of mutual assurance society. Each guild is managed by 
its mahdjans (i.e. ‘ great men ’) or set/is. In large cities the 
guilds command great influence. 

The origin and age of these trade guilds is uncertain, but 
in the Ramayana in the account of Bharata going out in pro- 
cession to seek Rama, the craftsmen are mentioned 1 as accom- 
panying him as well as the ‘ foremost merchants ’ : — 

‘ And all others, and the foremost merchants as well as 
all the principal classes, joyfully went in quest of Rama, and 
a number of gem-cutters, and goodly potters, weavers, and 
armourers, and peacock-dancers, sawers, and perforators of 
gems, glass-makers, and workers in ivory, cooks, incense- 
sellers, well-known goldsmiths, and wool manufacturers, bathers 
in tepid water, shampooers, physicians, makers of dhupas, and 
wine-sellers, washermen, and tailors and actors.’ 

This may imply the existence of some organization of the 
craftsmen into guilds before the time of Valmiki, and guilds 
of artisans are also referred to in Kautilya’s Arthaiastra . 2 

In modern times their influence has weakened from various 
causes, but they still exist, and the account of the guilds of 
Ahmadabad, as given in the Imperial Gazetteer of India , 3 is a 
good illustration of the system : — 

‘ In consequence of the importance of its manufactures in 
silk and cotton, the system of caste or trade unions is more 
fully developed in Ahmadabad than in any other part of Gujarat. 
Each of the different castes of traders, manufacturers, 

1 Ramayana of Valmiki, Griffith’s translation, p. 417 ; see also 
Birdwood, p* 13 1. 

= Arthaiaslra, iv. 1. 

3 vol. v. 101. 



and artisans forms its own trade guild, to which all heads 
of households belong. Every member has a right to vote, 
and decisions are passed by a majority. In cases where 
one industry has many distinct branches there are several 
guilds. Thus among potters, the makers of bricks, of tiles, 
and of earthen jars are for trade purposes distinct ; and in 
the great weaving trade, those who prepare the different 
articles of silk and cotton form distinct associations. The 
object of the guilds is to regulate competition among the 
members, eg. by prescribing days or hours during which work 
shall not be done. The decisions of the guilds are enforced 
by fines. If the offender refuses to pay, and the members of 
the guild all belong to one caste, the offender is put out of 
the caste. If the guild contains men of different castes, the 
guild uses its influence with other guilds to prevent the 
recusant member from getting work. Besides the amount 
received from fines, the different guilds draw an income by 
levying fees on any person beginning to practise his craft. 
This custom prevails in the cloth and other industries, but 
no fee is paid by potters, carpenters, and other inferior 
artisans. An exception is also made in the case of a son 
succeeding his father, when nothing has to be paid. In other 
cases the amount varies in proportion to the importance of 
the trade from Rs.50 to Rs.500. The revenue derived from 
these fees, and from fines, is expended in feasts to the members 
of the guild, and in charity. Charitable institutions or sada- 
vart, where beggars are fed daily, are maintained in Ahmadabad 
at the expense of the trade guilds.’ 

In ancient times the arts and crafts were encouraged by 
kings and great nobles, and many of them kept their own 
craftsmen who were organized on a semi-feudal 1 basis. 
Sometimes they were in the service of a temple or monastery. 
The position of such craftsmen was secure and hereditary. 

1 Coomaraswamy, ch. iii. ; Birdwood, p. 141. 


Royal craftsmen are said to have been established even as early 
as King Asoka. Many of the Muhammadan rulers were great 
patrons of the craftsmen. But the patronage of the rich was 
not always an unmixed blessing. Thus in mentioning the 
royal encouragement of the arts Bernier 1 complains that 
forced service was sometimes resorted to by rich patrons and 
also intimidation, and the Abbe Dubois 2 also in praising 
Indian craftsmen attributes their not having reached a higher 
standard of perfection to the cupidity of the rulers. If an 
artisan, he says, excelled in his craft he was carried off to the 
palace and confined there for the rest of his life, without 
remission of toil and little reward. Dubois believed that arts 
and manufactures would have made greater progress in India 
if the rulers had given them real encouragement. 

But however this may be, one may certainly say that the 
spirit of fine art and of craftsmanship has existed in India 
for long centuries, and has still a future before it. In ancient 
times the caste system, with its many disadvantages, helped to 
keep up the standard of work, and the dexterity and skill of 
each particular trade was handed down from father to son. 3 
Each craftsman and each caste was considered as in duty 
bound to perform his or its particular work for the good of 

The system of education, then, for the lads of each par- 
ticular trade was a domestic one. 4 They had practically no 
choice in the matter, but were, as a matter of course, brought 
up to the same trade as their fathers. Where the father was 
living and in good health he would usually train up his own 
son, and the young craftsman was, from the beginning, trained 
in the actual workshop. Thus not only was there a most 

1 Bernier's Travels, pp. 228-258. 

2 Dubois, i. 35. 

3 Birdwood, p. 129 ; Coomaraswamy, ch. v. 

* Ibid., ch. vi. ; see also MeJiceval Sinhalese Art , by same author, 
p. 63. 


affectionate relation between teacher and pupil, but the train- 
ing was free from the artificiality of the schoolroom. The 
boy was taught by observing and handling real things, and 
the father would take a great delight in passing on to his son 
the skill which he himself possessed. In the collection of 
jade at the Indian museum there is a large engraved bowl on 
which a family in the employ of the emperors of Delhi was 
engaged for three generations. 1 

It was not merely a question of actual teaching, but the 
boy would day by day absorb unconsciously the traditions and 
spirit of thepar ticular craft which he was learning. 

In many arts and crafts drawings would be a necessary 
accomplishment. This was learnt 2 by the boy drawing first 
certain peculiar curves on a panel. After this came the 
drawing of certain traditional ornaments, and conventional 
figures of mythical animals and other forms. Drawing was 
not taught from nature. 

In the majority of occupations a knowledge of reading 
and writing would not be required for the direct purposes of 
the craft, and would not be learnt. But certain Sanskrit 
works would in some occupations be learnt by heart. 3 These 
contained traditional rules relating to the particular craft, and 
would not only be learnt but also explained to the novice. 
The craftsman was thus taught to look to the past ages for 
the rules of his trade and even to regard it as having been 
revealed by the divine skill of ViSvakarman. Thus in South 
India there are persons generally of the goldsmith caste, who 
are called vastu sastrls, who know by heart the traditional 
rules regulating the building of houses, who must be consulted 
by those who wish to erect new houses as to all the necessary 
details prescribed by the ancient books.* 

1 Birdwood, p. 142. 

2 Coomaraswamy, Meditrval Sinhalese Art , p. 64. 

3 Coomaraswamy, ch. vi. 

* Padfield, Hitidu at Home , p. 3. 


Though persons other than the three ‘ twice-born ’ castes 
were excluded from the study of the Vedas they were not 
shut out from participation in all religious rites, and in common 
with others would in various ways come to know something 
of the mythology and doctrines of the Hindu religion. 
Muhammadan craftsmen would, of course, have the same 
opportunity as others to send their boys to the maktab , held at 
the mosque, and here something of the Muhammadan religion 
was taught. The work of the craftsman was also accompanied 
by many religious rites, and it is not unknown for Hindu 
workmen on certain occasions even to worship their 

Thus the education of the young craftsman in India was 
entirely vocational, and even narrowly so. Though the 
religious side of the boy’s education was not neglected, on 
the literary side it was very defective, and except for any 
treatises he might have to commit to memory in connection 
with his craft, he would have nothing but such scraps of folk- 
lore, mythology, and epic and other stories that might be 
handed down in the family, or related as the villagers gathered 
for gossip and discussion in the evenings, or taught by some 
wandering mendicant or temple priest. Yet as a vocational 
education it was not lacking in elements that made it really 
valuable. The affectionate and family relationship between 
teacher and pupils, the absence of artificiality in the instruc- 
tion, and the opportunity and encouragement to produce really 
good work which the protection of the guild or caste gave — 
these were not without their influence in helping to build up 
a spirit of good craftsmanship, which was responsible for the 
production of really fine work. 

Women . — The education of girls in India was, and still 
is, not unlike the education of the boys who were to be 
craftsmen, in that it was entirely domestic and vocational, 
in the sense that they were being prepared for that which 



was considered a woman’s principal work the duties of the 

There are not wanting evidences that women had a much 
higher status and more independence in early society than 
they came to have later. The position of the woman of the 
Aryan invaders of India was one of authority and honour, 
and marriage sometimes took place by free choice of man 
and maid. The customs of infant marriage and enforced 
widowhood were not prevalent among the Aryans of Vedic 
times. The authorship of some Vedic hymns 1 is ascribed 
to women, and in the deep discussions on philosophical truths 
which are related in the Upanishads, 'women are mentioned 
as taking part. Thus Gargi Vachaknavl 2 joins in the dis- 
cussion, and Maitreyl , 3 wife of Yajnavalkya, was ‘ conversant 
with Brahman’, and heard from her husband philosophical 
doctrines. It is also described what a man should do 4 * if he 
wished ‘ that a learned daughter should be born to him ’. 

But even in the Rigveda we find signs that women were 
coming to be regarded as inferior beings and unequal to man 
in intellect. 

Thus it is said,"’ ‘ Indra himself hath said, The mind of 
woman brooks not discipline, her intellect hath little weight ’. 
And again , 6 ‘ With women there can be no lasting friendship ; 
hearts of hyenas are the hearts of women ’. By the time the 
code of Manu was drawn up her dependent position was fully 
established. It is there written : 7 ‘ By a girl, by a young 
woman, or even by an aged one, nothing must be done 
independently, even in her own house. In childhood a female 
must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, when 
her lord is dead to her sons ; a woman must never be 

1 Viz. Rigveda , viii. 8o ; x. 39, 40. 3 Brih. Ar. Up., iii. 6, 8. 

3 Ibid., ii. 4; iv. 5. 4 Ibid., vi. 4, 17. 

5 Rigveda, viii. 34, 17. 6 Ibid., x. 95, 15. 

' Manu, v. 147-149. 



independent. She must not seek to separate herself from her 
father, husband, or sons ; by leaving them she would make 
both her own and her husband’s families contemptible.’ 

And again : 1 ‘ Day and night must women be kept in 
dependence by the males of their families. . . . Her father 
protects her in childhood, her husband protects her in youth, 
and her sons protect her in old age ; a woman is never fit for 

There are many other, passages also which show the low 
esteem in which women were held at the time when these 
regulations came into being. They were excluded also from 
the study of the Veda. Early marriage had already become 
the custom, and the only education a girl received was one 
which fitted her to fulfil her duties in the household of her 
husband. ‘ Let the husband employ his wife in the collection 
and expenditure of his wealth, in keeping everything clean, 
in the fulfilment of religious duties, in the preparation of his 
food, and in looking after the household utensils.’ 2 The 
training for this began in her own home under the supervision 
of her mother, and when she was married and went to live 
with her husband it would be continued, owing to the Indian 
custom of the non-separation of the family, by her mother-in- 
law. The injunction that she should be employed in the 
collection and expenditure of her husband’s wealth would 
seem to imply some knowledge of simple accounts, but this 
did not probably amount to much, and it is often the 
custom for a woman in India to-day who can neither read 
nor write to look after her husband’s money. Although 
shut out from the study of the Vedas and from perform- 
ing a sacrifice, vow, or fast, apart from her husband, 
the performance of certain religious duties was specially 
enjoined for her, and in addition to receiving instruction in 
the rites and ceremonies in which she was expected to take 

1 Manu, ix. 2, 3 . 2 Ibid., ix. II. 


* 83 

part a woman would become acquainted with something of 
the vast heap of mythological stories and folk-lore which have 
been handed down and accumulated in India from ancient 
times. This indeed would in most cases be the only literary 
education she would receive. 

This was the state of the education of women in India for 
long centuries, but there were probably always some excep- 
tions to the general rule. The education which certain 
Muhammadan princesses and other ladies of noble Muham- 
madan families received is referred to in the chapter on 
Muhammadan education. There were Hindu ladies also who 
received the same privileges, and amongst Hindu women who 
have taken a prominent and vigorous part in state affairs are 
Chand Bib! of Ahmadnagar in the sixteenth century, Tarabal 
among the Marathas in the seventeenth, and Ahalya Bal of 
Indore in the eighteenth. There have also been poetesses 
like Mira Bal of the fifteenth century, and Blbl Ratan Kuar of 
the eighteenth century, both of whom wrote poems in the 
Hindi language. 

The daughters of wealthy landholders received sometimes 
some education from their fathers or family priests. There 
were also no doubt some women who broke through the 
barriers which shut them out from learning, and Ward 1 
mentions one Hati Vidyalankara, a Kulln Brahman widow, 
who removed from Bengal to Benares and obtained many 
pupils there. Many female ascetics and mendicants also are 
said to know some Sanskrit and a still greater number to 
be conversant with the popular poems in the dialects of the 

The dancing-girls who are often attached to temples and 
called devadasis (servants of the god) have in many cases 
been brought up from their infancy to lead immoral lives, but 
they have been famous in India for their wit and cleverness. 

1 Ward, ii. 503. 


They receive some education to enable them to perform their 
work of reciting and singing poems at certain festivals. 
Dubois 1 says, ‘ These prostitutes are the only females in India 
who may learn to read, sing, and dance. Such accomplish- 
ments belong to them exclusively, and are, for that reason 
held by the rest of the sex in such abhorrence, that every 
virtuous woman would consider the mention of them as an 
affront.’ The education of prostitutes is a very ancient custom 
in India. Thus with regard to them the Arthakastra of 
Kautilya says : 2 ‘ Those who teach prostitutes, female slaves 
and actresses, arts such as singing, playing on musical instru- 
ments like vina , pipe and drum, reading the thoughts of others, 
manufacture of scents and garlands, shampooing, and the art 
of attracting and captivating the mind of others shall be 
endowed with maintenance from the state.’ Their sons also 
were to be trained as actors, and many of the prostitutes were 
to be trained for the work of spies. ‘ The wives of actors and 
others of similar profession who have been taught various 
languages and the use of signals shall, along with their relatives, 
be made use of in detecting the wicked and murdering or 
deluding foreign spies.’ 

Although with these few small exceptions Indian women 
have been shut out from any education except the training in 
domestic and religious duties mentioned above, they have 
generally had before them a high ideal of virtue and devotion, 
and when opportunities have been given them have shown 
themselves capable of great intellectual attainments. The very 
custom of sati, or self-immolation of the widow on her husband’s 
funeral pyre, horrible and barbarous as it now seems even 
to Indian people themselves, was at least a sign of the great 
self-sacrifice and wifely devotion of which Indian women were 

As Rama has become the national hero of India so his 
1 Dubois, p. 387. 1 Artha'sastra, p. 156. 



wife Sita is regarded as an ideal for women to follow, and the 
ideal is by no means an unworthy one. When Rama was 
banished to wander in the forest through the evil instigation 
of Kaikeyl, his step-mother, Sita decided to accompany her 
husband and share all his hardships and difficulties. Thus she 
speaks 1 : — 

‘ If the righteous son of Raghu wends to forests dark and drear, 

Sita steps before her husband wild and thorny paths to clear. 

Like the tasted refuse water cast thy timid thoughts aside, 

Take me to the pathless jungle, bid me by my lord abide. 

Car and steed and gilded palace, vain are these to woman’s life, 
Dearer is her husband’s shadow to the loved and loving wife ! 

For my mother often taught me and my father often spake 
That her home the wedded woman doth beside her husband make, 
As the shadow to the substance, to her lord is faithful wife, 

And she parts not from her consort till she parts with fleeting life. 

Years will pass in happy union, — happiest lot to woman given, — 
Sita seeks not throne or empire, nor the brighter joys of heaven. 
Heaven conceals not brighter mansions in its sunny fields of pride, 
Where without her lord and husband faithful Sita would reside ! 
Therefore let me seek the jungle where the jungle rangers rove, 
Dearer than the royal palace, where I share my husband’s love, 

And my heart in sweet communion shall my Rama’s wishes share, 
And my wifely toil shall lighten Rama’s load of woe and care ! ’ 

And all through the long years of wandering and hardship 
and adventure she remained loyal and steadfast in spite of 
many sufferings endured. 

In the Mahabharata also there is a description of a true 
wife which we may set side by side with Slta’s lofty ideal. 

‘ A wife is half the man, his truest friend ; 

A loving wife is a perpetual spring 
Of virtue, pleasure, wealth ; a faithful wife, 

Is his best aid in seeking heavenly bliss ; 

A sweetly-speaking wife is a companion 
In solitude, a father in advice, 

A rest in passing through life’s wilderness.’ 2 

1 Ramayana , R. C. Dutt’s translation, pp. 41, 42. 

2 Monier-Williams, Brahmanism and Hinduism , p. 389. 


It was, then, almost entirely an ideal of domestic virtue 
and capability that was set before the Indian girl, and though 
it was certainly very narrow and circumscribed it was in many 
ways a great and noble one. And the high degree in which 
the Indian woman in the past has realized the ideal which 
her somewhat narrow education held before her, is a promise 
that when her educational horizon shall have become enlarged, 
she will achieve still greater excellence in wider and yet more 
noble ideals. 



At the time when Gautama the Buddha lived and taught 
his doctrines, those philosophical ideas which were after- 
wards organized into the Vedanta, Yoga, and other systems 
recognized as permissible to those within the fold of Brah- 
manism were already being discussed, though they had not 
assumed the final form as enshrined in the recognized Sutras. 
The doctrine of karma and transmigration was generally 
accepted by thinking persons, and the question which earnest 
inquirers after truth sought to answer was how release could 
be obtained from the endless round of births and rebirths. 
Buddhism was one among many answers to the question, and 
it has its roots deep in Hindu philosophic thought. It differed 
from the recognized Brahmanic philosophy, however, in several 
important details, and the teaching of Buddha was characterized 
by great earnestness and by a broad spirit of philanthropy. 
It might easily, however, have been assimilated as a part of the 
Brahmanic system, as many other beliefs and practices were, 
but for the fact that it contained certain elements which were 
destined to bring it into hostility with that system. These 
included the non-recognition of the Vedas, and of the 
Brahman hierarchy, as well as of the religious aspect of the 
caste system. Buddha carried on no crusade against any of 
these, but the opposition was implicit in his system, and in 
course of time the hostility worked itself out into a struggle 
for existence which ended in Buddhism ceasing to exist in 



India as a separate faith, though several of its ideas were 
incorporated into Hinduism. For over fifteen hundred years, 
however, it was in vogue, and developed a system of education 
which was a rival of the Brahmanic system, though in many 
ways similar to it. 

One main difference between the Brahmanic and Buddhist 
education was that the latter was not based on Vedic study 
and its teachers were not Brahmans, unless those who had 
become converted to Buddhism. It was open to all comers, 
and not merely to the three 1 twice-born ’ castes. All castes 
were equally admissible to the Buddhist community, though it 
seems to have been specially welcomed by the wealthy and 
respectable and supported by rich merchants and powerful 
rulers, to whose influence it owed a great deal for its 

Lay adherents were recognized and duties laid down for 
their guidance, but it was a logical conclusion from Buddha’s 
views of life that for rapid progress in spiritual improvement 
a life of retirement from the world was necessary, and this was 
urged upon those who wished to be earnest in their pursuit of 
freedom from earthly desires. A life of meditation in the 
solitude of a forest was considered to be the best of all, but 
from the first this was adopted only by the most earnest, and 
the majority of the monks, or bhikkhus , lived in companies 
in monasteries, or vi haras. These viharas formed a character- 
istic feature of Buddhism, and for many centuries they were 
widely spread in India. 

In order to be admitted to the sangha, or community of 
bhikkhus, the conditions were very simple. The applicant 
must be free from certain diseases, and be neither a slave, a 
debtor, nor in the king’s service. If under age he must first 
obtain the consent of his parents. The ceremony of admission 
is thus described in the Vinaya Pitaka 1 : — 

* Mahavagga, i. 38. 



‘ Let him who desires to receive ordination first cut off his 
hair and beard ; let him put on yellow robes, adjust his upper 
robe so as to cover one shoulder, salute the feet of the bhikkhus 
with his head ; and sit down squatting ; then let him raise his 
joined hands, and tell him to say : “ I take my refuge in the 
Buddha, I take my refuge in the Dhamma, I take my refuge in 
the Sangha 

This first act of admission was called the pabbajja , and after 
admission the candidate became a novice. The ceremony for 
full admission was called the upasampada and was very similar. 
No one could receive the pabbajja ordination till he was eight 
years of age, nor the upasampada ordination till he was twenty. 
There were strict rules as to chastity, poverty, and abstinence 
from worldly pleasures, and also as to food and clothes. A few 
simple rules as to discipline were laid down, but the monk took 
no vow of obedience. Respect for superiors was required from 
the novice, and the chapter, consisting of at least ten monks, 
might impose penances for offences and even expel a bhikkhu 
from the order in case of serious offence. The usual mode of 
obtaining subsistence was for the monk to beg his food, taking 
with him his begging bowl and going from house to house. 
But from the first it was also permitted for wealthy laymen to 
invite monks to feed occasionally at their houses and even on 
certain occasions to take food to the monastery. The offences 
which were to be avoided by the members of the order are 
summed up in the Patimokkha, a work which dates from the 
very early days of Buddhism. Twice every month this 
document should be publicly repeated in an assembly of monks 
at each monastery, and when this takes place a monk who has 
broken any rule is expected to confess his misdemeanour and a 
penance is imposed upon him according to the gravity of his 
offence. All the monks took part in the work of begging for 
food, but the manual labour in connection with the vi/idra was 
performed by the novices, and the senior members of the 



community were expected to devote themselves to meditation 
and to trances, and to learning thoroughly the doctrines of the 
faith and spreading them abroad in the world. During part 
of the year the bhikkhus often travelled from place to place, 
spreading their doctrines and teaching the adherents of the 
Buddhist faith, but during the rainy season they settled down 
at a monastery. The residents of a monastery must often 
therefore have changed, and in becoming bhikkhus it was 
membership in the order rather than in any particular monastery 
that was obtained. 

Each samanera , or novice, was required to choose a bhikkhu, 
who was a full member of the order, as his preceptor, or 
upajjhaya (or dchdriya). A pupil was called a saddhivihdrika A 

‘ I prescribe, O bhikkhus , that young bhikkhus choose an 
upajjhaya (or preceptor). • The upajjhaya , O bhikkhus , ought 
to consider the saddhivihdrika (i.e. pupil) as a son ; the 
saddhivihdrika ought to consider the upajjhaya as a father. 
Thus these two united by mutual reverence, confidence, and 
communion of life, will progress, advance, and reach a high 
stage in this doctrine and discipline.’ 

The choosing of an upajjhaya is to be as follows : 2 ‘ Let 
him who is going to choose an upajjhaya adjust his upper 
robe so as to cover one shoulder, salute the feet of the intended 
upajjhaya , sit down squatting, raise his joined hands, and say, 
“ Venerable Sir, be my upajjhaya ” ’. This was to be repeated 
three times, and if the bhikkhu who was addressed expressed 
his consent by word or gesture, then the choice was complete 
and the relationship of preceptor and pupil began. 

There were strict regulations 3 for the conduct of the pupil 
towards the preceptor. 

* Let him arise betimes ; and having taken off his shoes and 
adjusted his upper robe so as to cover one shoulder let him 
give to the upajjhaya the teeth-cleanser, and water to rinse 
1 Mahavagga, i. 25. 2 Ibid., i. 25. 3 Ibid. 


9 1 

his mouth with. Then let him prepare a seat for the upajjhdya. 
If there is rice-milk, let him rinse the jug, and offer rice-milk 
to the upajjhdya. When he has drunk it, let him give water 
to the upajjhdya , take the jug, hold it down, rinse it properly 
without damaging it by rubbing, and put it away. When the 
upajjhdya has risen let him take away the seat. If the place is 
dirty let him sweep the place.’ After this he was to help the 
preceptor to dress and get his alms-bowl ready if he wished 
to go out to beg. If the preceptor desired it, the pupil was to 
follow him as his attendant on the begging tour, keeping 
not too far away and not too near him. If the preceptor 
speaks he is not to interrupt him. After the begging is over 
the pupil was to get back quickly to the monastery, prepare 
a seat, get water for the washing of his feet, a foot-stool, and 
a towel. Then he must go and meet the preceptor and take 
his bowl and robe from him. He must fold the robe and 
attend to the clothes of the preceptor. If the preceptor wishes 
to eat the food in the alms-bowl, he must bring him water and 
then offer him food. After the meal the pupil must wash and 
dry the bowl and put it away, and also put away the robe. 
After the preceptor has risen the pupil must take away the seat, 
and put away the water for the washing of feet, the foot-stool 
and the towel. If the place was dirty he was to sweep it. 
Then he was to help the preceptor to bathe, getting for him 
cold or hot water, or accompanying him to the bathing-place 
if he wished to go there. The pupil also bathed at the same 
time, but had to dry and dress himself quickly so as to be 
ready to help the preceptor. After the bathing was completed 
he was to ask the preceptor for a discourse, or ask him 
questions. Elaborate directions are given as to the procedure 
to be followed by the novice in cleaning out the Vihara — the 
cell, store-room, refectory, fire-room, etc. The novice must 
also see that there is drinkable water and food, and water for 
rinsing the mouth. The pupil was also to act as a check, as it 



were, upon the preceptor, in keeping him steadfast in the faith. 
If he became discontented the pupil was to try and appease 
him, or get some one else to do this. If indecision arose in 
his mind or he had become tainted with false doctrines the 
pupil was to try and win him back. If the preceptor was guilty 
of a grave offence, the pupil was to take care that the sangha 
sentenced him to discipline and also that he was rehabilitated 
after the penance was complete, but he was at the same time 
to get the satigha to forego, or mitigate, any severe discipline 
which it might wish to impose upon his preceptor. The pupil 
was to see that the robe of the preceptor was washed, or made, 
or dyed, according to need. He was not to accept presents, or 
give presents, or wait on any one else, or go out, without the 
permission of the preceptor. If the preceptor was sick he was 
to wait upon him and nurse him diligently . 1 

The preceptor, on the other hand, had his responsibility 
towards the pupil . 3 

‘ The upajjhaya , O bhikkhus , ought to observe a strict con- 
duct towards his saddhiviharika. Let the upajjhaya , O bhikkhus , 
afford spiritual help and furtherance to the saddhiviharika by 
teaching, by putting questions to him, by exhortation, by in- 
struction.’ He was to see that he possessed an alms-bowl, a 
robe, and the other simple articles which a bhikkhu was allowed 
to possess. If the pupil was sick the preceptor was not only 
to nurse him, but to wait upon him and attend to him, just as 
the pupil was required to wait upon himself in health. He 
was to see that the pupil washed his robe, and show him how 
to make and dye it. 

Only in certain prescribed cases could a pupil be turned 
away by his preceptor. A bhikkhu could not accept the office 
of preceptor till he had himself been a bhikkhu for ten years, 
and was learned and competent." 

These were the regulations for the mutual conduct of 
1 Mahavagga, i. 25. 1 Ibid., i. 26. 3 Ibid., i. 27. 



preceptor and pupil, which were drawn up at some early 
period before the days of King Asoka. A Chinese visitor, 
I-Tsing, who was in India between 673 and 687 a.d., shows 
us how the system was working at the time of his visit. After 
referring to the directions in the Vinaya text quoted above, he 
says 1 : — 

‘ The following is also the manner in which a pupil waits 
on his teacher in India. He goes to his teacher at the first 
watch and at the last watch of the night. First the teacher 
bids him sit down comfortably. Selecting some passages from 
the Tripitaka, he gives a lesson in a way that suits circum- 
stances, and does not pass any fact or theory unexplained. 
He inspects his pupil’s moral conduct, and warns him of 
defects and transgressions ; whenever he finds his pupil faulty 
he makes him seek remedies and repent. The pupil rubs the 
teacher’s body, folds his clothes, or sometimes sweeps the 
apartment and the yard. Then having examined water to see 
whether insects be in it, he gives it to the teacher. Thus, if 
there be anything to be done, he does all on behalf of his 
teacher. This is the manner in which one pays respect to 
one’s superior. On the other hand, in case of a pupil’s illness, 
his teacher himself nurses him, supplies all the medicine 
needed, and pays attention to him as if he were his child. 

Thus the monastic system, which was an important feature 
of Buddhism, provided that every novice on his admission to 
the order should place himself under the supervision and 
guidance of a preceptor, and this state of pupillage was to last 
for ten years. I-Tsing says ' 2 that after five years from the time 
that the pupil masters the Vinaya, he was allowed to live apart 
from his teacher, but he must put himself under the care of 
some teacher wherever he went until ten years had elapsed 
after he was able to understand the Vinaya. The main ideas 

1 I-Tsing (Takakusu’s Lrans.), p. 120. 

2 Ibid., p. 119. 



of this connection of teacher and pupil were taken over from 
the Brahmanic education, and are in close similarity with it. 
From this provision for the instruction of novices arose the 
Buddhist educational system. 

At first, no doubt, the primary idea was to provide for the 


proper instruction of the novice in the doctrines of the Buddhist 
faith, and to secure some supervision over his conduct while 
he was becoming habituated to the monastic life. Buddhism, 
indeed, exists to abolish ignorance, but it is not primarily 
concerned with the intellect or with the promotion of learning. 
The ignorance which is to be abolished is ignorance of a small 
number of practical doctrines, such as the necessary connection 
of sorrow with existence, and the need of extinguishing desire. 
The pursuit of secular knowledge would almost seem, from 
one point of view, to be contrary to the spirit and purpose of 
Buddhism, and yet we know that the Buddhist monastic 
institutions did become to some extent places of general 
learning. A person who is on his way to the attainment of 
perfect knowledge of things in themselves — that is, one who is 
determined to become a future Buddha — is called, according 
to the Mahayana form of Buddhism, a Bodhisattva. To reach 
this high estate he has to pass through certain stages, and 
among some of the stages which came to be recognized by 
Mahayana teaching are those in which intellectual pursuits and 
study are required . 1 This development of ideas, however, 
only took place after Buddhism had existed for a long time. 

The practice of Buddhist education probably varied very 
much in different countries and at different times, and we have 
no evidence as to how soon monasteries became centres of 
educational importance, not only in the doctrines of Buddhism, 
but also in other subjects. No doubt the existence of Brah- 
manic learning would form an example and incentive to the 
Buddhist monks to engage in study. 

1 See Enc. Rel. and Ethics, article on ‘ Bodhisattva ’, pp. 739 ff. 



We get a valuable picture of Buddhist education as it 
existed in India from the records left by certain Chinese 
Buddhist scholars, who visited India in the fifth and seventh 
centuries of our era. Their chief purpose in visiting India 
was to study Pali and Sanskrit and secure copies of the sacred 
books of Buddhism to take back with them to their own land. 
Their long, toilsome, and dangerous journeys would hardly 
have been undertaken unless the fame of the Buddhist monas- 
teries in India as places of learning had reached as far as China. 

Fa-hien, who was in India between 399 and 414 a.d., 
makes frequent references to monasteries, and says that the 
regular business of the monks was to perform acts of meri- 
torious virtue and to recite their Sutras, and sit wrapt in 
meditation. 1 In speaking of the monastery at Pataliputra, or 
Patna, he says 2 : — 

‘ By the side of the tope of Asoka there has been made 
a Mahayana monastery, very grand and beautiful ; there 
is also a Hlnayana one; the two together containing six or 
seven hundred monks. The rules of demeanour and the 
scholastic arrangements in them are worthy of observation. 
Samans (monks) of the highest virtue from all quarters, and 
students, inquirers wishing to find out truth and the grounds 
of it, all resort to these monasteries.’ 

Fa-hien spent three years at Patna 3 learning Sanskrit and 
Sanskrit books, and making copies of the Buddhist sacred 
works. He stayed also at Tamralipti (near the mouth of the 
Hooghly) and at other places. In the Panjab he found that 
the oral method of instruction was used, but in the more 
eastern regions of India writing was more freely used. Nalanda 
was visited by Fa-hien, but it had apparently no monks or 

About two hundred years later came Hiuen Tsiang (629 

1 Fa-hien (Legge’s trans.), p. 44. 2 Ibid., p. 78. 

3 Ibid., pp. 98 ff. 

9 6 


to 645 a.d.). He found Buddhism still flourishing, though a 
revival of Brahmanism had taken place. The Mahayana form 
of Buddhism was spreading and the Hlnayana form declining. 
He mentions monasteries at a great many places, but also 
speaks of some as in ruins. Some of these monasteries were 
very large, and often there were groups of them in one place. 
Thus at Hiranyaparvata, on the Ganges, there were ten 
sanghardmas (or monasteries) with about four thousand monks, 
and at Tamralipti also there were ten with a thousand monks. 
At Tiladaka, only twenty-one miles west of Nalanda, there 
was a monastery, with regard to which he says 1 : — 

‘ This building has four halls, belvideres of three stages, 
high towers, connected at intervals with double gates that open 
inwards. It was built by the last descendant of Bimbisara- 
raja. He made much of high talent and exalted the virtuous. 
Learned men from different cities, and scholars from different 
countries, flock together in crowds, and reaching so far abide 
in this sanghardma. There are a thousand priests in it, who 
study the Great Vehicle.’ 

But the most important Buddhist centre of learning by this 
time was at Nalanda, which was famous far and wide for its 
learning. Hiuen Tsiang makes frequent reference to it as a 
place of learning, and describes it as follows 3 : — 

‘ The priests, to the number of several thousands, are men 
of the highest ability and talent. Their distinction is very 
great at the present time, and there are many hundreds whose 
fame has rapidly spread through distant regions. Their con- 
duct is pure and unblameable. They follow in sincerity the 
precepts of the moral law. The rules of this convent are 
severe and all the priests are bound to observe them. The 
countries of India respect them and follow them. The day is 
not sufficient for asking and answering profound questions. 

1 Hiuen Tsiang (Beal’s trans.), vol. ii. 102. 

2 Ibid. , ii. pp. 1 70 ff. 



From morning till night they engage in discussion ; the old 
and the young mutually help one another. Those who cannot 
discuss questions out of the Tripitaka are little esteemed and 
are obliged to hide themselves for shame. Learned men from 
different cities, on this account, who desire to acquire quickly 
a renown in discussion, come here in multitudes to settle their 
doubts, and then the streams of their wisdom spread far and 
wide. . For this reason some persons usurp the name (of 
Nalanda students) and in going to and fro receive honour 
in consequence. If men of other quarters desire to enter and 
take part in discussions, the keeper of the gate proposes some 
hard questions ; many are unable to answer, and retire. One 
must have studied deeply both old and new (books) before 
getting admission.’ He goes on to say that seventy or eighty 
per cent, of such would-be residents of Nalanda failed to' pass 
the test for admission. He also mentions a long list of cele- 
brated teachers who lived at Nalanda and not only taught but 
composed treatises, commentaries, and other works. 

Not very long after Hiuen-Tsiang’s departure another 
Chinese scholar, I-Tsing, came to India. He was in the 
country from 673 to 687 a.d. His travels in India were not 
so extended as those of Fa-Hien and Hiuen-Tsiang, but he 
stayed ten years at Nalanda which was still a flourishing 
centre of learning. He says 1 with regard to it that the rites 
of the monastery were very strict and consequently the number 
of residents was great and exceeded three thousand. It had 
eight halls and three hundred apartments. 2 The lands in its 
possession contained more than two hundred villages. They 
had been bestowed upon it by kings of many generations. 
‘Thus,’ says I-Tsing, 3 ‘the prosperity of the religion continues 
ever owing to nothing but the fact that the Vinaya is being 
strictly carried out.’ The hours of work and of worship in 

1 I-Tsing, p. 65. 2 Ibid., p. 154. 

3 Ibid., p. 65. 


9 8 


Nalanda, as well as in other monasteries, were regulated by 
using clepsydrae. 1 

I-Tsing gives us a most interesting idea of the study carried 
on at Nalanda. He says 2 that the pupil, after attending to the 
service of his teacher, ‘ reads a portion of scripture and reflects 
on what he has learnt. He acquires new knowledge day by 
day, and searches into old subjects month after month, without 
losing a minute In speaking of the method of learning he 
refers to Panini’s Sutras and other grammatical works which 
he says 3 had to be learnt by heart. Apparently some prelimi- 
nary study was often done before entering Nalanda, for he says 
that ‘ after studying grammar, etc., under instructors, they pass 
two or three years at Nalanda or in the country of Valabhi 
(Western India) ’. Grammar seems to have been the foundation 
of all other studies and to have received great attention. 

‘ Grammatical science,’ he says, 4 ‘ is called in Sanskrit Sabda- 
vidya, one of the five Vidyas.’ (The five Vidyas are : (i) 6ab- 
davidya, grammar and lexicography ; (2) Silpasthanavidya, 
arts; (3) Chikitsavidya, medicine; (4) Hetuvidya, logic; and 
(5) Adhyatmavidya, science of the universal soul, or philo- 
sophy.) ‘ &abda means “ sound,” and vidya “ science.” The 
name for the general secular literature of India is Vyakarana 
(i.e. Grammar), of which there are about five works, similar to 
the Five Classics of the Divine Land (China).’ These five 
he enumerates as follows : — 

(1) ‘The Sidd/ia — composition for beginners. . . . Chil- 
dren learn this book when they are six years old, and finish it 
in six months.’ 

(2) ‘The Sutra is the foundation of all grammatical 
science. ... It contains a thousand Slokas and is the work 
of Panini. . . . Children begin to learn the Sutra when they 
are eight years old, and can repeat it in eight months’ time.’ 

1 I-Tsing, p. 145. 2 Ibid., p. 1 16. 

3 Ibid. , p. 167. 4 Ibid., pp. 169 fif. 



(3) * The book on Dhatu ’ (Verbal roots). 

(4) ‘ The book on the three Khilas (or “ pieces of waste 
land”), viz. Ashtadhatu, Manda, and Unadi.’ (The first deals 
with cases and conjugations, and the others with the formation 
of words from root and suffix or suffixes.) ‘ Boys begin to learn 
the book on the three Khilas when they are ten years old, and 
understand them thoroughly after three years’ diligent study.’ 

(5) ‘The Vritti-Sutra' ( Kasikavritti). ‘This is a com- 
mentary on the foregoing Sutra ( i.e . Panini’s Sutra). . . . 
Boys of fifteen begin to study this commentary, and understand 
it after five years.’ 

There thus seems to have been a long course of gram- 
matical study of the Sanskrit language, beginning when a boy 
was six years of age and lasting till he was twenty, which was 
a preliminary to the study of higher subjects. With regard to 
this further study I-Tsing says 1 : ‘ After having studied this 
commentary, students begin to learn composition in prose 
and verse and devote themselves to logic ( hetuvidya ) and 
metaphysic ( abhidharmakosa ). In learning the Nyaya-dvara- 
tarka-sdstra (introduction to logic), they rightly draw inferences 
( anumana ) ; and by studying the Jdtakamala (stories of Buddha 
in previous births) their powers of comprehension increase. 
Thus instructed by their teachers, and instructing others, they 
pass two or three years, generally in the Nalanda monastery in 
Central India, or in the country of Valabha (Wala) in Western 
India. These two places are like Chinma, Shihch’u, Lungmen, 
and Ch’ueli in China, and there eminent and accomplished men 
assemble in crowds, discuss possible and impossible doctrines, 
and after having been assured of the excellence of their 
opinions by wise men, become far-famed for their wisdom. 
To try the sharpness of their wit they proceed to the king’s 
court to lay down before it the sharp weapon of their abilities ; 
there they present their schemes and show their (political) 
1 I-Tsing, pp. 176 ff. 



talent, seeking to be appointed in the practical government. 
When they are present in the House of Debate, they raise 
their seat and seek to prove their wonderful cleverness. When 
they are refuting heretical doctrines all their opponents become 
tongue-tied and acknowledge themselves undone. Then the 
sound of their fame makes the five mountains (of India) 
vibrate, and their renown flows, as it were, over the four 
borders. They receive grants of land and are advanced to a 
high rank ; their famous names are, as a reward, written in 
white on their lofty gates. After this they can follow what- 
ever occupation they like.’ 

It is apparently in connection with this higher course that 
he mentions certain other books which were studied, namely — 

(6) ‘The Churni' (i.e. the Mahabhashya, or Great Com- 
mentary of Patanjali on Panini’s Sutras). 

(7) ‘ The Bhartrihari sastra treats of principles of human 
life as well as of grammatical science.’ 

(8) ‘ The Vcikya discourse ’ — a treatise on the Inference 
supported by the authority of the sacred teaching, and on 
Inductive argument 

(9) ‘The Pei-na' (perhaps Beda or Veda), which was a 
work on philosophy. 

The priests also, he tells us, learned besides, all the 
Vinaya works, and investigated the Sutras and &astras as 

This valuable picture of Buddhist learning and education 
in the monasteries at the time of I-Tsing’s visit shows a great 
amount of intellectual activity going on. The main course 
seems to have been founded on an elaborate study of Sanskrit 
grammar which led on to logic and finally to metaphysics and 
philosophy. It is closely connected with Brahmanic educa- 
tion in that the first six out of the nine works which he men- 
tions as being studied were those also used in the Brahman 
schools. The last three, however, were composed, I-Tsing 



tells us, by Bhartrihari , 1 2 who was a member of the Buddhist 
order. The method seems to have been chiefly oral, and he 
frequently insists that these various treatises must be learned 
by heart. I-Tsing has a passage in which he says, 5 * ‘ There are 
two traditional ways in India of attaining to intellectual power : 
(i) Committing to memory; (2) the alphabet fixes one’s .. 
ideas. By this way, after a practice of ten days or a month, a 
student feels his thought rise like a fountain, and can commit 
to memory whatever he has once heard. This is far from 
being a myth, for I myself have met such men.’ The meaning 
of this passage is by no means clear, but it certainly brings out 
the prevalent practice of learning everything by heart and 
shows what facility students seem to have gained in doing 
this. A great place was also given to discussion and debate, «- 
at least in the higher part of the course, and a man’s ability 
seems to have been very largely judged by his power to - 
vanquish opponents in discussion. It was such men appa- 
rently who got royal appointments and whose names were, ‘ as 
a reward, written in white on their lofty gates.’ 

The Jataka stories and the Vinaya and other texts which 
were studied gave some of the elements of the study of litera- 
ture, and I-Tsing mentions 3 the composition of poems as one 
of the occupations of the residents at the monasteries. Great . 
attention seems to have been given at Nalanda to the practice 
of singing or chanting, and I-Tsing was anxious that this should 
be introduced in his own country. 

Medicine seems to have been studied, though not forming 
part of the ordinary course. It was no doubt taken up by 
specialists. I-Tsing refers to a Sastra on medical science 
and makes considerable mention of various forms of medical 

1 For Bhartrihari, see Macdonell, Sans. Lit., pp. 340, 381, 382. He 
died in 651 a.d. 

2 I-Tsing, p. 183. 

3 Ibid., p. 154. 



treatment ; and Fa-hien, who was in India two hundred years 
before I-Tsing, mentions the dispensaries and hospitals which 
existed at Patna . 1 Medicine seems to have been specially 
cultivated by the Buddhists ; and Charaka, who is one of the 
chief Indian authorities on medicine, is said to have been the 
court physician of the Buddhist King Kanishka in the first 
century a.d. There is no evidence that law, mathematics, and 
astronomy were cultivated in the Buddhist schools of learning. 
Probably law was already regarded too much as an exclusive 
possession of the Brahmans to make intrusion by others 
possible, while Buddhism would not have the need of 
astronomy that Brahmanism had for ascertaining auspicious 
times for sacrifices and other ceremonial. 

Though Buddhism encouraged a life of separation from 
the world and the suppression of desire, it did not, like Brah- 
manism, advocate asceticism and bodily mortification, and the 
care of the bodily health was considered as of importance for 
improvement in the spiritual condition. We find that exercise 
was encouraged in the Buddhist monasteries of India, and 
I-Tsing tell us" that ‘in India both priests and laymen are 
generally in the habit of taking walks, going backwards and 
forwards along a path, at suitable hours, and at their pleasure ; 
they avoid noisy places. Firstly it cures disease, and secondly 
it helps to digest food. The walking hours are in the fore- 
noon, and late in the afternoon. They either go away (for a 
walk) from their monasteries, or stroll quietly along the 
corridors. ... If any one adopts this habit of walking he will 
keep his body well, and thereby improve his religious merit.’ 

I-Tsing seems to have had a very favourable impression of 
the school of learning at Nalanda where he spent so many 
years. He mentions by name many distinguished teachers 
whom he met and with whom he conversed, and says 3 : ‘ I 

e I-Tsing, p. 1 14. 

3 Ibid., pp. 184, 185. 

1 Fa-hien, p. 79. 



have always been very glad that I had the opportunity of 
acquiring knowledge from them personally, which I should 
otherwise never have possessed, and that I could refresh my 
memory of past study by comparing old notes with new 

Thus arising out of the duty of the bhikkhus to teach and 
spread their doctrines and of the relation of teacher and pupil 
which the discipline of the order required, the Buddhist 
monastery had become a place where not only the Buddhist 
doctrines were studied, but also much secular knowledge. No 
doubt the content of this was meagre judged by modern 
standards, but it does not compare very unfavourably with the 
content of other ancient systems of education. Was this 
system of general culture confined to those who had entered 
the sacred order either as monks or as novices, or was it also 
shared by those who were preparing to take a more active part 
in the affairs of the world? It seems clear from what I-Tsing 
tells us, that the monastery was a place of instruction not only 
for those who had joined the order as a lifelong profession, 
but for others also. He tells us, for instance, in a passage 
quoted above, that the debate which was held in the king’s 
court was in order that students might show their talent, and 
thus obtain appointments in the practical government. He 
also tells us that after completing their course students could 
‘ follow whatever occupation they like.’ But there is a passage 
which puts the matter still more clearly and leaves no doubt 
upon the question . 1 ‘ Those white-robed (laymen) who come 
to the residence of a priest, and read chiefly Buddhist 
scriptures with the intention that they may one day become 
tonsured and black-robed, are called “ children ’ ( manava ). 
Those who (coming to a priest) want to learn secular literature 
only without having any intention of quitting the world, are 
called “ students ” ( brahmachdn ). These two groups of 
* I-Tsing, p. 105. 



persons, though residing in a monastery, have to subsist at 
their own expense. In the monasteries in India there are 
many “ students ” who are entrusted to the bhikkhus and in- 
structed by them in secular literature. On the one hand the 
“ students ” serve under priests as pages, on the other the 
instruction will lead to pious aspirations. It is therefore very 
good to keep them, inasmuch as both sides are benefited in 
this way.’ 

This passage makes it quite clear that there were in the 
monastery not only the professed monks and novices, but also 
those who were studying the Buddhist scriptures with a view 
to joining the order and also those who had no intention of 
doing so, but were residing at the monastery only for the sake 
of education. This practice also may have been influenced 
by the Brahman schools which were open not only to young 
Brahmans who were destined for the priestly office, but to 
others of the twice-born castes as well. There was nothing 
to prevent a man who had joined the Buddhist order from 
returning to the world, and probably many did so, and with 
regard to Bhartrihari, who composed some of the works 
I-Tsing refers to, he tells us 1 that he became seven times a 
priest, but seven times returned to the laity, and that he wrote 
the following verses full of self-reproval : — 

‘ Through the enticement of the world I returned to the laity. 

Being free from secular pleasures again I wear the priestly cloak. 
How do these two impulses 
Play with me as if a child ? ’ 

I-Tsing adds, ‘At last he returned to the position of a lay 
devotee ( upasaka ), and wearing a white garment continued 
to exalt and promote the true religion, being still in the 

The story of this man illustrates what was probably 
frequently the case that some joined the order without 
1 I-Tsing, p. 179. 


I0 5 

continuing in it, but it is also interesting as showing how one 
of the foremost teachers of the monastery was a man who did 
not continue in the order but finished his career as a layman. 

After the visits of these Chinese pilgrims we have but 
scanty evidence as to the course and development of Buddhist 
education in India, but the monasteries long continued as 
centres of education and literary study, and only decayed as 
Buddhism itself decayed in India. Dr. S. C. Vidyabhusana 1 
mentions the following mediaeval centres of Buddhist learning, 
namely, Kanchlpura,' Nalanda, Odantapurl, 3 Sri Dhanyakataka, 
Ka6mlra, and Vikramasila. 

Nalanda has already been referred to above in connection 
with the visits of the Chinese scholars. Its site has been 
identified with the modern Baragaon, seven miles north of 
Rajgir, in Bihar. Nagarjuna, about 300 a.d., and Arya 
Deva, about 320 a.d., are said to have been the earliest 
scholars to take interest in Nalanda as an educational institu- 
tion, but it was not till about 450 a.d. that it assumed the 
character of a university when it came under the recognition 
of the king of Magadha. It must have been at the height of 
its prosperity about the time of the visits 4 of Hiuen-Tsiang 
and I-Tsing in the seventh century a.d. The latest limit of 
the existence of Nalanda as a university centre which is 
known with certainty is 750 a.d., when a certain Kamalslla 
was teaching the Tantric philosophy there. But it probably 
existed until about 850 a.d., for it is known that there was 
for some time intercourse between Nalanda and the later 
university of Vikramasila, which was not founded till about 800 
a.d. ‘ According to Tibetan accounts the quarter in which 
the Nalanda University, with its grand library, was located, 
was called Dharmaganja (“ Piety Mart ”). It consisted of 
three grand buildings called Ratnasagara, Ratnodadhi, and 

1 Mediaval School of Indian Logic. 2 l.c. Conjeeveram. 

3 Or Uddandapura. * See pp. 96 ff. 


Ratnaranjaka. In Ratnodadhi, which was nine-storied, there 
were the sacred scripts called Prajndpdramitd-sutra , and 
lantric works such as Samdja-guhya, etc. After the Turuska 
raiders had made incursions in Nalanda, the temples and 
chaityas there were repaired by a sage named Mudita Bhadra. 
Soon after this, Kukutasiddha, minister of the king of Magadha, 
erected a temple at Nalanda, and while a religious sermon was 
being delivered there, two very indigent Tlrthika mendicants 
appeared. Some naughty young novice-monks, in disdain, 
threw washing-water on them. This made them very angry. 
After propitiating the sun for twelve years, they performed a 
yajna, fire sacrifice, and threw living embers and ashes from 
the sacrificial pit into the Buddhist temples, etc. This pro- 
duced a great conflagration which consumed Ratnodadhi. It 
is, however, said that many of the Buddhist scriptures were 
saved by water which leaked through the sacred volumes of 
Prajndpdramitd-sutra and Tatitra.' 1 

From the foregoing account it will be seen that in the later 
years at least of Nalanda the Tantric form of Buddhism 
was studied there, that is, a variety of Mahayana Buddhist 
doctrine, which was closely allied to the Hindu cult of Siva 
and illustrates the gradual assimilation of Indian Buddhism to 
Hinduism. Two other centres of learning which came into 
being as Nalanda declined were both strongholds of Tantric 
Buddhism. These were Odantapuri and VikramaSila. 

The monastery of Odantapuri, or Uddandapura, was founded 
by a certain Gopala, who was king of Bengal and extended 
his power westwards over Magadha, or South Bihar. It 
dates from about the middle of the eighth century a.d . 2 

Vikramasila 3 had a monastery which is said to have 
included 107 temples and six colleges. It was founded by 

1 Mcdiaval School of Indian Logic , Appendix A. 

2 V. A. Smith, Hist, of India , 3rd edition, p. 397. 

3 Mediceval School of Indian Logic , Appendix C. 



King Dharmapala at the close of the eighth century a.d. It 
was situated in Bihar on a hill on the right bank of the Ganges, 
but its precise position is not certain. King Dharmapala en- 
dowed his foundation with rich grants which were to be used 
for the maintenance of 108 resident monks as well as non- 
resident monks and pilgrims. A learned and pious sage was 
always appointed as the head of the monastery. Among the 
subjects studied were grammar, metaphysics (including logic), 
and ritualistic books. Pandits who were eminent for learning 
and character were rewarded by having their images painted 
on the walls of the university, and the title of ‘ pandit ’ was 
conferred on distinguished scholars by the king himself. Six 
of the most learned of the sages of this foundation were 
appointed to guard its gates. This university was de- 
stroyed by the Muhammadan invader Bakhtiyar Khilji about 
1203 A.D. 

It seems that, apart from the monasteries, Buddhism did 
not offer any educational opportunities, but we have to ask 
the question as to how far, during all the centuries that Bud- 
dhism existed in India, Buddhist education influenced the 
general mass of the people, at least those who adhered to 
Buddhism, and provided opportunities of popular instruction. 
In more modern times in some Buddhist countries it is said 
that almost all boys went to the monastery and received at 
least some elementary education at the hands of the monks. 
Thus in Burma, before the country came under British control, 
almost the whole male population passed through the monas- 
teries, and were taught by the monks. 1 Those who did not 
intend to join the religious order stayed till they were about 
twelve years of age, and received instruction in reading, 
writing, and arithmetic, as well as some religious instruction. 
There is no doubt that this system of popular education in 
connection with the Buddhist monastery is an ancient custom, 
1 Shway Yeo, ch, ii. 



and it has been claimed that the presence of Buddhist monas- 
teries in India in ancient times implies a widespread, popular 
education there during the time that they flourished. 1 There 
does not, however, seem to be any very clear evidence of this, 
and we cannot say how soon it became the practice for the 
monasteries to give education of a popular kind. The question 
of the origin of popular education in India will be discussed in 
the later chapter on that subject, but it may be said here, that 
even if facilities existed for general instruction as early as the 
reign of King Asoka, it was not necessarily in connection with 
the monasteries that it was given. 

At the time of the visit of Fa-hien, however (399-414 a.d.), 
we find that the monasteries seem to have begun to undertake 
instruction of a more general kind than merely instructing 
those who joined the sangha in the precepts of Buddhism. In 
speaking of the monasteries at Patna, he says 2 that the rules 
of demeanour and the scholastic arrangements in them were 
worthy of observation, and that students and inquirers wishing 
to find out the truth and the grounds of it resorted thither. 
In a note on Fa-hien’s reference to the * scholastic arrange- 
ments ’ at Patna, Prof. Legge says : ‘ Why should there not 
have been schools in those monasteries in India as there were 
in China? Fa-hien himself grew up with other boys in a 
monastery, and no doubt had to go to school. And the next 
sentence shows us there might be schools for more advanced 
students as well as for the sramaneras.' There seems no 
reason to doubt that by the time of Fa-hien the monasteries 
may have given some general instruction not only to young 
novices, but even to pupils who had no intention of joining 
the sangha. At all events this system was in full swing at the 
time of I-Tsing’s visit. But even the presence of pupils who 
were not intending to join the order of monks does not warrant 
us, without other evidence, in thinking that such education was 
1 V. A. Smith, Aioka , p. 108. 2 Fa-hien, p. 78. 



taken advantage of by a large proportion of the children of 
Buddhist parents, or included popular elementary instruction. 
The education which I-Tsing describes was education of a 
higher rather than of a popular type, and was based on a 
profound and lengthy study of Sanskrit grammar. It would, 
of course, seem likely that there were arrangements for teach- 
ing reading and writing to the lads who were taking this 
course, but I-Tsing makes no mention of this, nor of the 
teaching of arithmetic. It is not, therefore, possible to say for 
certain, even at the time of I-Tsing’s visit, whether literacy 
was widely diffused amongst the Buddhist population or rfot. 
It would seem, however, not unlikely that when once the 
monasteries had begun to receive pupils who were not intend- 
ing to join the community the system might have been 
gradually extended, and to have catered even for boys who 
only came to learn the three R’s and receive some simple 
religious instruction, and the analogy of Buddhist schools as 
they exist in Burma and Ceylon even down to the present 
day would seem to confirm this. If, as seems not unreason- 
able to suppose, the Buddhist monasteries came to supply a 
good deal of popular elementary instruction, the decay of 
Buddhism and the consequent disappearance of the monas- 
teries would have meant that this method of giving popular edu- 
cation would also have gradually come to an end, and so the 
need would arise for this education to be supplied in some other 
way. This may have been one amongst other causes which 
led to the spread of the indigenous elementary schools in India. 

A description of the education carried on in Ceylon in a 
Buddhist school, as given by a writer 1 who wrote about the 
middle of last century, may help us to form some picture of 
what the Buddhist schools in India were probably like, though 
difference of country and lapse of time may have brought 
many changes. He says that there was generally a school 
1 R. S. Hardy, Eastern Monachism, pp. 18 and 313 ff. 



attached to a pansal , or residence of a Buddhist priest. The 
children did not all attend at the same period of day, but as 
they had leisure went to the pansal to repeat their lessons, and 
then returned home, or went to their employment in some 
other place. The school was a mere shed open at the sides, 
with a raised platform in one corner covered with sand, on 
which letters were traced by the finger of the child learning 
to write. Lessons were usually repeated aloud, and were 
recited in a singing tone, several boys frequently joining in 
chorus. The alphabet was first learned, and was usually 
copied upon tal leaves ; after that the union of vowels and 
consonants. Then the pupil began to write the letters upon 
sand, holding in the left hand a piece of wood to erase what 
he had written. The course of reading included about fourteen 
books : (i) A name book, which was a collection of names of 
villages, countries, temples, caves, etc.; (2) an enumeration 
of the various signs and beauties upon the person of Buddha ; 
(3) stanzas in honour of Buddha, Truth, etc., with some 
grammatical rules also ; (4) an account of the birth of 
Gane6a, etc. ; (5) stanzas in praise of Buddha in Elu, Pali, 
and Sanskrit; (6) Navaratna (‘The Nine Jewels’) — a descrip- 
tion and eulogy of nine most precious things in the world, the 
principal of which is Buddha; (7) Sanskrit proverbs with 
explanations ; (8) Sanskrit stanzas in honour of Buddha with 
explanation ; (9) Sanskrit stanzas containing the names of the 
last twenty-four Buddhas, etc. ; (10) Pali stanzas in honour of 
Buddha; (11) Sanskrit stanzas in honour of the sun; (12) 
Sanskrit stanzas on the management of the voice in recitation ; 
(13) Pali stanzas in honour of Buddha ; (14) the AmarakoSa, 
or Sanskrit lexicon, with a Singhalese commentary. This was 
the complete curriculum for a Singhalese student unless he 
was preparing for the priesthood or for the medical profession. 
Even this course was only completed by a few of the boys who 
attended the pansal schools. 


1 1 1 

In schools in Buddhist monasteries in Burma 1 the con- 
dition of affairs is very similar , 2 or, at least, was so before the 
introduction of Western ideas of education. When a boy is 
about eight or nine years of age he goes as a pupil to the 
monastery, which is open to all, rich and poor alike. He 
does not, however, become a novice until twelve or fifteen 
years of age, when it is the custom to assume the yellow robe 
of the monastic order at least for a short time. Some boys 
are boarders, others attend the monastery every day. The 
instruction begins by teaching a boy the letters of the alphabet 
written on a rough wooden slate. These he learns by shouting 
them out at the top of his voice. All the books which are 
learnt are religious ones, and the curriculum includes the 
learning of Pali formulae and prayers necessary for religious 
worship. The life and sayings of Buddha and the Jatakas are 
the chief elements of instruction. The pupils repeat their 
lessons word for word after their teacher, as they sit in rows 
before him, and chant after him all in the same key. The 
amount of secular learning, arithmetic, and so on, is of the 
most meagre possible description. Boys designated for a 
monastic life stay on permanently, but those intended for lay 
life leave at twelve years of age or even earlier. Nowadays 
many boys attend the government or mission schools, but they 
often go to the monastery first. Although the curriculum in 
the monastic schools is of such a meagre description, the 
educational opportunities which they have provided have led 
to a very high percentage of literacy amongst the male popu- 
lation of Burma, which is very much higher than in any 
province of British India. 

The Buddhist monastic order includes not only monks but 

1 For an interesting account of Buddhist education as it exists in 
Tibet to-day, see Indiati Pandits in the Land oj Snow, by S. C. Das, 
i«93» PP- 3-U- 

2 Shway Yeo, ch. ii. . 

I 12 


also nuns ( bhikkhunis ). It was only with great reluctance 
that the Buddha consented to this arrangement. His aunt, 
Mahaprajapati, wished to join the order, but was refused three 
times. She appealed to Ananda, who interceded for her, and 
at last the Buddha yielded. He expressed, however, his 
sorrow, and said that the admission of women would ruin his 
work. If they had not been admitted, the doctrine, he said, 
would have abided a thousand years, but now it would only 
abide five hundred. The nuns were made closely dependent 
on the monks, and could only be admitted by them ; and 
there are passages which show that the Buddha shared the low 
opinion of women which was held by others in India, as we 
see expressed, for instance, in the Law of Manu. We have 
no means of ascertaining to what extent Buddhist nunneries 
spread, and what proportion in numbers they bore to the 
monasteries. It would seem most likely that they would be 
much fewer in number, and this is borne out by what is found 
in Buddhist countries to-day. In Ceylon Buddhist nuns are 
hardly to be found, and in Burma they are small in numbers 
compared with the monks. It is not likely, therefore, that 
Buddhist nunneries in India helped to any great extent to 
spread education amongst women. No doubt those who 
joined the order would- have received instruction in the Bud- 
dhist doctrines, and perhaps also in reading and writing ; but 
we do not know whether the nunneries, like the monasteries, 
became centres of general instruction, receiving pupils even 
from amongst those who were not intending to join the order. 
There is no evidence of this, and the probability seems rather 
against our supposing it was so. In Ceylon there are no such 
nunneries to-day where girls are instructed, and in Burma 
little is done for the education of girls compared with what is 
done for boys. Some Buddhist nuns visit, it is said, the 
women in their homes, and there are a few girls’ schools at 
the nunneries, but that is all. It seems hardly safe, therefore, 



to conjecture that even when Buddhism was at its zenith in 
India it did very much for the education of women. 

Apart from the monasteries or nunneries Buddhism did not 
provide educational opportunities, but the sons of Buddhist 
laymen, who did not go to the sanghardma for instruction, 
would learn their own craft or profession from their fathers in 
the same way as other Indian craftsmen, and had also the 
opportunity of attending whatever popular schools may have 

Buddhism has passed away from India, but has left a 
considerable influence upon Indian philosophic thought and 
religious ideals j but on the educational side it is difficult to 
estimate the amount of its influence. Its curriculum was 
meagre, and, such as it was, was mostly borrowed or adapted 
from the Brahmanic schools. The Vedas were replaced by 
its own sacred books. Medicine and logic 1 seem to have 
been the two subjects in which the Buddhist schools were 
distinguished, if we leave out of account their influence on 
philosophic thought. Mediaeval Indian logic from about 400 
to 1200 a.d. was almost entirely in the hands of Jains and 
Buddhists, and their books on this subject are very numerous. 
The Buddhist educational ideals and practice also were de- 
rived from, or closely connected with, those of Brahmanism. 
It is not, however, improbable that in breaking down the 
monopoly of the Brahmanic schools and offering the possi- 
bility of education to men of all castes, Buddhism may have 
done something to extend amongst the people of India the 
desire for some popular education besides the training of the 
young craftsmen, and to have stimulated a demand which led 
to the growth of the popular elementary schools which are 
described in a later chapter. 

1 For Buddhist logic, see The Mediceval School of Indian Logic, by 
Dr. S. C. Vidyabhusana. 




The Muhammadans first appeared in India in the eighth 
century a.d., but the real storm of Muhammadan aggression 
burst on India under Mahmud of Ghazni, who is said to have 
made no less than seventeen raids into India from 1000 to 
1026 a.d. He was a stern opponent of idolatry, and with 
fierce iconoclastic zeal he broke down temples and smashed 
idols and carried off many captives and much wealth to his 
own capital. To the inhabitants of India Mahmud must have 
appeared as anything but a promoter of education and learn- 
ing, for during his raids the Brahman educational centres often 
suffered severely, and the learned Brahmans, who lived and 
taught there, were often killed or put to flight. In his own 
kingdom of Ghazni, Mahmud, 1 however, was a great patron of 
education on Muhammadan lines. He gave large sums of 
money for the support of learned men and poets, and at his 
capital he established a seat of learning which was resorted to 
by literary men from far and near. Amongst them was the 
poet Firdausi. Mahmud’s immediate successor is said to have 
founded schools and colleges, and the patronage of learning 
was continued. All this, however, was really outside India. 

The permanent settlement of Muhammadans in India, and 
the conversion, whether by force or persuasion, of some of the 
inhabitants to Islam meant the establishment of mosques, and 

1 X. N. Law, Promotion of Learning in India by Muhammadans, pp. 
3 if. ; Ferishta (irans. by J. Briggs), i. 61. 



as in other Muhammadan countries, the mosque, especially in 
towns, was a centre of instruction and of literary activity. 
Muhammadan educational institutions are distinguished as 
maktabs or madrasahs . The maktab is a primary school 
attached to a mosque, the chief business of which is to in- 
struct boys in those portions of the Koran which a Muham- 
madan is expected to know by heart in order to perform his 
devotions and other religious functions. Sometimes instruc- 
tion in reading, writing, and simple arithmetic is also included 
in the curriculum. The madrasah is a school or college of 
higher learning. 

Mahmud’s successors were unable to hold what their father 
had won, and a new power arose at Ghor, west of Ghazni, 
which overthrew the Ghaznawids. It was Muhammad Ghor! 
(1174-1206) who really laid the foundations of the Muham- 
madan domination of India. In 1192 he established his power 
at Delhi. Muhammad Ghor! is reported to have destroyed 
some temples at Ajmere, and to have built in their places 
mosques and colleges. 1 He had a great fancy for adopting 
some of his promising young slaves and giving them a good 
education. This education combined training in the work of 
governing with literary instruction. Amongst the slaves whom 
he thus educated was Kutb-ud-dln, who succeeded his master in 
x 2 10 at Delhi, and was the first of what is called the Slave 
Dynasty. Kutb-ud-dln was a man of literary tastes, and 
although, like .many other Muhammadan rulers, he destroyed 
Hindu temples, he built many mosques which were centres 
not only of religious worship but also of education. An officer 
of his, named Bakhtiyar, destroyed at Vikrama6ila in Bihar a 
Buddhist monastic institution which was a place of learning, 
but he also is said to have been an establisher of mosques and 
colleges.- There is mention 3 of a madrasah , or college, built 

2 Ibid . , pp. 19, 20; Ferishta, i. 190. 

3 Law, p. 21. 

1 Law, pp. 17, 18. 

1 16 


by Altamsh (1210-1236), the successor of Kutb-ud-dln; and 
his daughter Raziya, who ruled after her father’s death, was a 
woman of some education, and was a patron of learning. A 
college existed at Delhi during her reign. 1 Naslr-ud-dln 
(1246-1266) and Balban (1266-1287) both encouraged learn- 
ing. 2 The former is said to have been a student, and in Balban’s 
reign many literary societies are said to have flourished at Delhi 
under the patronage of his son, Prince Muhammad. 3 There is 
mention of a college at Jalandhar in the reign of Naslr-ud-dln. 
Balban’s successor was a profligate youth who gave no en- 
couragement to men of letters. 

In the Khaljl dynasty 1 (1290-1320) Jalal-ud-dln was a 
man of great literary tastes, but not so Ala-ud-dln, who not 
only showed no favour to learned men but confiscated the 
endowments which had been given for their support by his 
predecessors. By this time, however, Delhi had become a 
great centre of learning, and continued to be so in spite of the 
discouraging policy of Ala-ud-dln. The endowments were 
restored by his successor, who was in other ways a worthless 

Under the Tughlak monarchs 5 (1325-1413) Muhammadan 
education in India seems to have made considerable progress. 
It was encouraged by Ghiyas-ud-dln Tughlak ; and his suc- 
cessor, Muhammad Tughlak, is said to have been a man of 
great learning who gave great encouragement and help to 
scholars. But his good intentions and efforts \yere to a great 
extent spoiled by the wild scheme he projected of building a 
capital at Daulatabad and compelling all the inhabitants of 
Delhi to migrate to the new city. This caused great misery, 
which was hardly alleviated by the citizens being allowed to 
return to their old homes when the scheme fell through. 
This was a great set-back to Delhi as a centre of education 

1 Law, p. 22. * Ibid., p. 25. 3 Ibid., p. 24. 

4 Ibid. , pp. 30-41. 5 Ibid., pp. 42 ff. 



and learning, as it became bereft of its scholars. It was some 
time before it could recover. Flruz Tughlak was more suc- 
cessful in his attempt to found a new Delhi, which he called 
Flruzabad. This city became famous as a literary centre, and 
Flruz, who was himself an educated man, gave great en- 
couragement to scholars, and bestowed gifts and pensions 
upon them. 1 Like some of the Muhammadan sovereigns of 
India before him he had a special interest in educating young 
slaves, though he carried it to a further extent than any of 
his predecessors. It is said that he maintained no fewer than 
eighteen thousand of these lads, and large sums must have 
been spent by him for their support and education. He had 
some of them apprenticed to craftsmen, while others were set 
to learn the Koran or the art of copying manuscripts. In the 
inscription which Flruz placed upon a mosque in his capital of 
Flruzabad, he mentions 2 amongst his other good works the 
repair of schools and the alienation of revenue for their sup- 
port. The Muhammadan historian Ferishta says 3 that Flruz 
built no less than thirty colleges with mosques attached. In 
the college which he founded at his capital students and pro- 
fessors all lived together in the institution, and stipends and 
scholarships were given for their support. It is evident that 
under this sovereign considerable advance must have been 
made in the education of Muhammadans. The invasion of 
Taimtir (1398), with its horrors of bloodshed and rapine, must 
have been as great a set-back to education as it was to the 
political power of the Delhi kingdom. In the time of Sayyid 
Ala-ud-dln, Badaun became a great centre of learning, 4 and 
under Sikandar Lodi, Agra, which had been made the capital 
by his predecessor, also caftie into prominence as a literary 
centre. 5 Sikandar insisted on all his military officers having a 
literary education. 

1 Ferishta, i. 462. 2 Ibid. , i. 464, 465. 3 Ibid., i. 464, 465. 

4 Law, p. 71. 5 Ibid., p. 73. 

1 1 8 


The madrasahs and tnaklabs were confined to Muham- 
madans, but by this time Hindus and Muhammadans had 
begun to study one another’s languages. The sacred language 
of Islam was, of course, Arabic, but Persian was the court 
language of the Muhammadan conquerors of India, and a 
knowledge of Persian, and perhaps sometimes also of Arabic, 
would be necessary for Hindus who held important offices 
under government. The appointment of Hindus to such 
offices was beginning to take place. Flruz Shah, for instance, 
gave to two Hindus very responsible posts in his administra- 
tion . 1 The Muhammadans also were beginning to translate 
Hindu books into Persian, which involved a knowledge of the 
Hindu languages. In the reign of Sikandar Lodi the move- 
ment developed greatly , 2 and it was about that time that the 
study of Persian by Hindus began in earnest. The intercourse 
between the Muhammadans and Hindus led to the formation 
of a new language which came to be called Urdu . 3 It is an 
application of Western Hindi to the common purposes of all 
classes. It is generally written in Persian characters and 
has many words of Arabic and Persian origin. The word 
Urdu means literally ‘ camp ’, but the Mughals of India used 
it only with regard to the Imperial Camp . 4 Urdu was thus 
the ‘ camp language ’ in that sense. 

While the paramount sovereigns at Delhi were thus 
developing education amongst their Muhammadan subjects, 
many of the monarchs of the lesser Muhammadan states, 
which had become independent of Delhi during the period of 
disorder which had followed the death of Flruz Shah, were 
also showing great activity in this direction. In the BahmanI 
kingdom of the Deccan there is the record of the founding of 

1 Law, p. 64. - Ibid., p. 75. 

3 Calcutta Rev., 1884, art. ‘Mediaeval India’, by H. G. Keene, pp. 

74 . 75 - 

4 Keene, Moghul Empire, p. 6. 



several colleges and schools. 1 The college which Mahmud 
Gawan, minister of Muhammad Shah (1463-1482), built at 
Bldar, is said to have possessed a library of three thousand 
volumes. Some of the BahmanI sovereigns made provision 
for the education of orphans, appointing funds for their 
support, and for the learned men engaged to teach them. It 
has been said that this kingdom possessed a high standard of 
education according to the current Muhammadan ideas, and 
that there were many village schools. Education was also 
encouraged and colleges built in the states of Bljapur, Golkonda, 
Malwa, Khandesh, Jaunpur, Miiltan, and Bengal. 2 The Chahar 
Minar, which still exists in Haidarabad (Golkonda), once con- 
tained a college. In the state of Jaunpur, the capital city of 
the same name was one of the most famous seats of Muham- 
madan learning in India in the Middle Ages. It came into 
prominence during the reign of Ibrahim Sharki (1402-1440), 
and although Sikandar Lodi destroyed its colleges when he 
conquered Jaunpur, it regained its position as an educational 
centre. Scholars from far and near came to study here, and 
amongst the students was one at least, Sher Shah, :: who after- 
wards became the paramount Muhammadan sovereign of 
India. Having quarrelled with his father, who was ruling in 
Bengal, he went to Jaunpur, and when his father wrote 
demanding his return, he replied that Jaunpur was a better 
place of education than Sasaram. The subjects which he 
studied were history, poetry, and philosophy, and he learnt by 
heart the Persian poems of Sa’di. He also learnt Arabic. In 
the time of Ibrahim Sharki it is said that Jaunpur contained 
hundreds of colleges and mosques, and up to the time of the 
Emperor Shah Jahan (1627-1658) it was still in a flourishing 
condition. Afterwards it declined in influence, though it still 
continued as a place of learning well into the eighteenth century. 

Besides the efforts of ruling sovereigns there is evidence 
1 Law, pp. 80-90. 2 Ibid., pp. 91-113. 3 Ibid., p. 136. 



that the patronage and encouragement of learning, and the 
foundation of colleges and schools, were also undertaken by 
many of the nobility and gentry. By the time, then, that the 
Mughal emperors began to reign in India there must have 
already existed a great many Muhammadan colleges and 
schools in various parts of India. We cannot, of course, 
always rely on the statements of the historians, many of whom 
were court favourites, and anxious to show in the best light 
the activities of their patrons. It seems that colleges which 
were called into being by royal patrons, and existed by the 
subsidies they allowed, easily came to nought if patronage was 
not continued by their successors, or in times of distress, like 
Taimiir’s invasion. And a college does not necessarily mean a 
large institution. It may mean no more than a class attached 
to a mosque with a single teacher in charge. Moreover, it was 
chiefly in the capitals and other important centres that monarchs 
are said to have established colleges. But, even making 
all allowance for exaggeration, it seems quite evident that 
Muhammadan higher education, before the invasion of Babar, 
must have been established in many important centres, and 
probably a large number of mosques had attached to them a 
maktab, in which pupils learnt some passages of the Koran by 
heart, and sometimes also ‘the three R’s. Many learned men 
also taught pupils in their own houses. It is all the more 
surprising, therefore, that the Emperor Babar, in his interesting 
memoirs, says that Hindustan had no colleges. He writes 1 : 
‘ The people of Hindustan have no good horses, no good flesh, 
no grapes or musk-melons, no good fruits, no ice or cold 
water, no good food or bread in their bazars, no baths or 
colleges , no candles, no torches, not a candlestick.’ It has, 
indeed, been pointed out that he was speaking of Upper India , 2 

1 Talbot’s Memoirs of Babar , p. 190. 

- Mr. H. Beveridge in Introd. to Promotion of Learning in India by 
Muhammadans, p. xxv. 


I 2 I 

the only part known to him at the time, and, of course, of 
Muhammadan colleges, and that thus limited his statement is 
probably correct ; but it seems evident that the fame of colleges 
in India could not have spread beyond its borders, and it may 
be, therefore, that they were not so numerous nor so flourishing 
as the court historians would lead us to suppose. 

Babar, the first of the Mughal emperors (1526-1530), was 
a man of great accomplishments, with a knowledge of Arabic, 
Persian, and Turkish, and a taste for poetry; but he had barely 
won his kingdom in India when he died at the early age of 
forty-eight. His son, Humayun (1530-1556), was, like his 
father, an accomplished scholar, who gave great encouragement 
to learned men ; but he was for a long time banished from 
India, when his throne was occupied by Sher Shah (1540-1545). 
A college was built by Humayun at Delhi, 1 and by Sher Shah 
at Narnaul. 2 The tomb of Humayun also for some time had 
a college attached to it. 3 

Akbar (1556-1605) was the most brilliant of all the 
Mughal emperors, but it is remarkable that he is generally 
supposed to have been unable to read or write. This, indeed, 
has been disputed, 4 but whether it was so or not we cannot call 
him an uneducated man, and he was deeply interested in the 
work of spreading education and learning. Several Muham- 
madan sovereigns in India seem to have been active in found- 
ing libraries. We have already mentioned the library of three 
thousand volumes at Bldar, 5 in the BahmanI kingdom, and it 
was by falling from the balcony of his library that Humayun 
met his death. Akbar G was particularly zealous in building up 
a great library, and almost every day he had books from it 
read to him. He was a patron not only of Muhammadan 

1 Law, p. 133. 2 Ibid. , p. 137. 

3 Ibid. , p. 134. 1 Ibid., pp. 139-142. 

s See p. 1 19. 

“ For Akhar as a patron oflearning, see Law, pp. 139-172. 



learning but also of Hindu learning, and had a large number 
of Sanskrit and other books translated into Persian. Akbar, 
like other sovereigns, was a builder of colleges, not only at his 
new city of Fathpur Slkrl, but also at Agra and other places. 
Colleges, it seems, were not always residential institutions, and 
one scholar in giving an account of himself says that he used 
to go twice a day, morning and evening, to a college at Delhi, 
although he lived two miles away . 1 Colleges also were erected 
by private individuals, and amongst others by Maham Anaga, 
who was Akbar’s nurse. This lady erected a college at Delhi, 
the ruins of which are still to be seen. Painting, music, 
and caligraphy were encouraged by Akbar, as well as other 
fine arts. 

Akbar, who in his later years was very tolerant in religious 
matters, made arrangements for Hindu youths to be educated 
at the madrasahs as well as Muhammadans. His great finance 
minister was a Hindu named Todar Mai. Todar Mai ordered 
all official accounts to be kept in Persian, and this regulation, 
by compelling many Hindus to study that language, helped 
the growth and development of Urdu also, and its acceptance 
as the lingua franca of a great part of India . 2 

At the new city of Fathpur SikrI, Akbar erected a hall 
called the Ibadat Khana, where discussions were frequently 
held in his presence. Not only were the representatives of 
various religions invited to put forward the claims of their re- 
spective faiths, but many other debates were held on religious, 
philosophical, scientific, and historical questions. A matter 
which was discussed at one of these debates led to Akbar 
making a strange experiment which is not without interest 
to educationists. 

It is said that one day it was being debated as to what was 
the first language of mankind. The Muhammadans declared 

1 Elliot, Hist, of India as told by its own Historians , vi. 176. 

- Grierson, Literature of Hindustan, p. 35. 



that it was Arabic, the Jews said it was Hebrew, while the 
Brahmans maintained that it was Sanskrit. Akbar wished to 
discover the truth of this matter, and so he ordered twelve 
new-born infants to be secured and brought up in strict seclusion 
by dumb nurses. Not a word was to be spoken in their hear- 
ing till they had reached twelve years of age. When the time 
arrived the children were brought before the royal presence, 
and experts in the various learned tongues were present to 
catch the first words which fell from the lips of the children, 
and to decide to which language it belonged. As might have 
been expected, they could not utter a word, but communicated 
with each other only by signs. The children were afterwards 
taught to speak, but with the greatest possible difficulty. This 
is the story as it is related by Father Catrou , 1 who based his 
history of the Mughal dynasty on the memoirs of the Italian 
Manucci, who was for forty-eight years physician to the Mughal 
emperors. BadaunI, the Muhammadan historian, who was 
unfriendly to Akbar, gives a slightly different version of the 
story , 2 which is simpler and perhaps nearer the truth. He 
says that several suckling infants were kept in a secluded place 
far from habitations, where they were not to hear a word 
spoken. Well-disciplined nurses were placed with them, who 
were to refrain from giving any instruction in speaking, so as 
to test the accuracy of the tradition which says that every one 
that is born is born with an inclination to religion, by ascertain- 
ing what religion and sect these infants would incline to, and, 
above all, what creed they would repeat. BadaunI also says 
that about twenty infants were thus segregated, and that after 
three or four years some had died, but the others were all 
dumb. The experiment may, indeed, appear a somewhat 
foolish one, and not without a shade of cruelty, but educa- 
tionists may perhaps envy Akbar the power of carrying out a 

1 Banerjee’s trans., p. 117. 

■ J. Talboys Wheeler, Hist, of India, iv. 174 ; Elliot, ii. 288. 



psychological investigation of this kind, and wish he had used 
his opportunity for conducting experiments which would have 
been more useful. 

Akbar’s interest in, and care for, education is shown by a 
most remarkable passage in the Aln-i-Akbarl (or institutes of 
Akbar). This work, which was composed by Abul Fazl, 
Akbar’s personal friend and minister, contains a most 
interesting account of his administration. The following 
passage refers to education 1 : — 

‘ In every country, but especially in Hindustan, boys are 
kept for years at school, where they learn the consonants 
and vowels. A great portion of the life of the students is 
wasted by making them read many books. His majesty 
orders that every schoolboy should first learn to write the 
letters of the alphabet, and also learn to trace their several 
forms. He ought to learn the shape and name of each 

letter, which may be done in two days, when the boy 

should proceed to write the joined letters. They may be 
practised for a week, after which the boy should learn 
some prose and poetry by heart, and then commit to memory 
some verses to the praise of God, or moral sentences, each 

written separately. Care is to be taken that he learns 

to understand everything himself, but the teacher may assist 
him a little. He then ought for some time to be daily 
practised in writing a hemistich or a verse, and will soon 
acquire a current hand. The teacher ought specially to look 
after five things, knowledge of the letters ; meanings of 
words ; the hemistich ; the verse ; the former lesson. If this 
method of teaching be adopted a boy will learn in a month, 
or even in a day, what it took others years to understand, so 
much so that people will get quite astonished. Every boy 
ought to read books on morals, arithmetic, the notation 
peculiar to arithmetic, agriculture, mensuration, geometry, 
1 Blochmann’s trans., p. 278; see also Gladwin’s trans., i. 223. 




astronomy, physiognomy, household matters, the rules of 
government, medicine, logic, the tabl’I, riyazl, and ilahl 
sciences, and history; all of which may be gradually acquired . 1 
In studying Sanskrit students ought to learn the Bayakaran, 
Niyal, Bedanta, and Patanjal. No one should be allowed to 
neglect those things which the present time requires. These 
regulations shed a new light on schools, and cast a bright 
lustre over madrasahs' 

This most interesting statement illustrates Akbar’s great 
concern for education. It seems intended to bring about 
certain reforms in the schools, but the exact nature of those 
reforms is difficult to understand in the absence of information 
as to the state of affairs which it was intended to replace. 
Like many other reformers Akbar seems to have thought that 
too much time was spent in learning the mechanical arts of 
reading and writing, and he was probably trying to overcome 
the difficulties which the Persian character presents to the 
beginner. He seems to be recommending, in the first place, 
a quicker method of teaching these subjects. In the chapter 
on popular education it will be shown how in Hindu schools 
writing was taught before reading, and by the pupil running 
his pen over letters traced by the master, whereas in the 
Muhammadan Persian schools reading was taught before 
writing. Is it not possible that Akbar was impressed by the 
more rapid progress made in Hindu schools, in learning 
reading and writing, and wished to introduce these methods 
into Muhammadan schools also? His broad tolerance and 
interest in Hindus as well as Muhammadans makes this not 
unlikely. With regard to his regulations for learning by heart 
it is, again, not clear what reform is intended. It may be that 

1 ‘ The tabl’I, riyazl, and ilahl sciences are the names of the threefold 
divisions of sciences. Ilahl, or divine, sciences comprise ever}- thing con- 
nected with theology, and the means of acquiring a knowledge of God. 
Riyazi sciences treat of quantity, and comprise mathematics, astronomy, 
music, and mechanics. Tabi’T sciences comprehend physical sciences.’ 



he wished to reduce the time spent on this also, and make it 
more intelligent by insisting on the pupils understanding what 
they were learning, and writing out what they learnt. It is 
noteworthy that among the five things which the teacher is 
urged specially to look after are the meanings of words and 
the revision of the former lesson. Akbar evidently intended 
whatever was done to be done thoroughly. The injunction 
that ‘ care is to be taken that he (the pupil) learns to under- 
stand everything himself, but the teacher may assist him a 
little,’ sounds almost like a quotation from a modern text- 
book on education. While, however, we must be careful not 
to read too much into this or any other statement of this 
document we can say at least that it shows that Akbar saw 
the need of intelligent co-operation on the part of the pupil in 
the work of education, and that true progress can only be 
made when the pupil is learning to think out his own pro- 
blems. The curriculum which is put forward as suitable for 
‘ every boy ’ must evidently be intended for the madrasah 
rather than for the primary schools. Even so it is a very wide 
one. It is to be noticed that in the earlier portion of the 
document Akbar laments the fact that a great portion of the 
life of students is wasted by making them read ‘ many books 
and yet he here recommends the study of a very large number 
of subjects. But the two things are not inconsistent. The 
former statement evidently refers to the reading of many books 
without understanding them, or of books which his majesty 
would not consider of much practical use, as, for example, the 
vapid belles lettres in Persian. He seems, in fact, to be taking 
the line so often taken by practical men of affairs, and to 
deprecate mere book-learning as contrasted with the acquisi- 
tion of practical knowledge. The curriculum which he lays 
down contains a preponderance of scientific subjects, but these 
were, no doubt, those usually taught in the madrasahs. We 
can, however, hardly suppose that any one madrasah taught 



them all, or that many students could get a thorough grasp 
of such a wide range of subjects. The order of subjects in 
Akbar’s scheme seems to give a preference to those which 
were of practical utility, which suits the character of Akbar, 
who was himself an inventor and encouraged the mechanical 
arts. It is to be noted, however, that the subject of morals 
heads the list, and theology was also included. The short 
reference at the end of the document to Hindu education 
shows Akbar’s interest in that also. It apparently only 
records what was the usual practice in teaching Sanskrit 
students, and the emperor would hardly have dared to work 
out reforms for the Brahmanic education, but the injunc- 
tion that ‘ no one should be allowed to neglect those things 
which the present time requires’ may be taken as a sug- 
gestion that the practical side of education should not be 

These regulations certainly bring out in a very favourable 
light not only Akbar’s interest in and care for the education 
of his people, but also his attempt to make that education 
efficient. It is possible that Abul Fazl or other ministers of 
Akbar may have had a hand in framing such regulations, but 
it is probable that Akbar himself also had at least some part 
in the matter, for they suit the practical bent of his character. 
The question may well be asked as to how far these regula- 
tions were carried into practical effect and what was their 
result. There was no such thing as an education department, 
nor were there inspectors of schools in those days, and even 
supposing this document to have been circulated to all local 
officials and to all schools it is not unlikely that it may have, 
to a large extent, remained a dead letter, except by way of 
suggestion to the more enterprising teachers. No doubt in 
schools which came under the personal notice of the emperor 
or of any officials as interested as he was, and as anxious for 
reform, there may have been some notice taken of it, but it is 



hardly likely that the conservative traditions of the schools 
would have been altered very easily. 

Akbar’s son and successor, Jahangir 1 (1605-1627), was in 
many ways a less able sovereign than his father. He was not, 
however, without some predilections for learning, and he wrote, 
with the assistance of others, his own memoirs. He was a 
lover of books and paintings, and gave great encouragement 
to artists. Some of these he employed to illustrate his own 
memoirs. Agra was at this time still a great centre of learn- 
ing, and the exponents of various religious faiths are said to 
have come to live in the city to set forth their respective 
creeds. In the matter of building colleges Jahangir was 
active, and it is recorded that he repaired some colleges 
which for thirty years had been desolate and inhabited only 
by birds and beasts. Jahangir not only repaired them, but 
supplied them again with teachers and pupils. He made a 
law that when any wealthy man died without leaving an heir 
his property was to escheat to the crown and be used for the 
repair of colleges, monasteries, and other religious buildings. 
Shah Jahan’s reign' 3 (1627-1658) is specially famous for the 
erection of many fine buildings, but does not seem to be 
marked by any remarkable educational progress. He did 
not, however, reverse the policy of his predecessors in the 
encouragement of learning, and like them also he was a 
patron of music and painting and the fine arts. A college 
was founded at Delhi in this reign close by the great mosque 
of that city, and another college in Delhi was repaired and 
re-established. Shah Jahan’s son, Prince Dara Shukoh, was a 
great scholar, with a strong leaning towards Hindu philosophy. 
He translated many Sanskrit works into Persian, among others 
the Upanishads. 

The French traveller Bernier visited India during the reign 
of Shah Jahan, and it is remarkable that he draws a most 
1 Law, pp. 173-180. 2 Ibid ., pp. 180- 186. 



unsatisfactory picture of the state of education in India. He 
says 1 — 

‘ A profound and universal ignorance is the natural con- 
sequence of such a state of society as I have endeavoured to 
describe. Is it possible to establish in Hindustan academies 
and colleges properly endowed ? Where shall we seek for 
founders ? Or, should they be found, where are the scholars ? 
Where are the individuals whose property is sufficient to 
support their children at colleges ? or if such individuals exist 
who would venture to display so clear a proof of wealth ? 
Lastly, if any persons should be tempted to commit this great 
imprudence, yet where are the benefices, the employments, 
the offices of trust and dignity, that require ability and science, 
and are calculated to excite the emulation and the hopes of 
the young student ? ’ 

When one thinks of the record of the founding of numerous 
colleges during the reigns of the Mughal emperors, to say 
nothing of those that were founded by earlier Muhammadan 
sovereigns, and also of the zeal for, and interest in, education 
shown by sovereigns like Firuz Shah and Akbar, and of the 
mention also of educational institutions started by many private 
patrons, it is difficult to imagine how such a melancholy view of 
the state of education could have been taken by this seven- 
teenth-century traveller. It is interesting to compare his view 
with that taken by the Emperor Babar in his memoirs. Like 
many other visitors from the West, Bernier no doubt judged 
the state of affairs in India too much by European standards, 
and relied too much on casual observation for the formation 
of his opinion. But he could hardly have written such a 
paragraph if education had been as widespread in India as we 
might be tempted to suppose by the numerous references to 
the building of colleges. An interesting sidelight is thrown 
on the situation by the frequent mention of the repair of 
1 Bernier's Travels (Constable’s trans.), p. 229. 




colleges which had fallen into disuse and bad repair. Thus 
Jahangir is said to have repaired and re-established no less 
than thirty of such colleges which had become so ruined as to 
be inhabited by birds and beasts, while Shah Jahan also did 
the same for a college in the royal city of Delhi ; and this 
was subsequent to the reign of Akbar when education was 
so highly favoured and encouraged. It certainly looks as 
though some colleges were quickly deserted by tutors and 
scholars when the pious founder died or his interest languished. 
They migrated in many cases to a newer institution which 
offered better conditions. And it may be that in the latter 
part of his statement, where Bernier laments the lack of 
suitable employments and positions for young men who have 
studied, he is reflecting the opinion of some with whom he 
came into contact who may have given as their reason for not 
pursuing higher studies the lack of certainty in obtaining 
suitable employment when their course was completed. 
Brahman education, carried on largely in secluded places and 
without any royal provision for its support, save the encourage- 
ment given by princes like Akbar and Dara Shukoh, probably 
escaped his notice. While, therefore, we must discount a 
great deal the unfavourable opinion of Bernier, it will help 
us, on the other hand, not to over-estimate the progress of 
education in India even under the best of the Mughal emperors. 

It was part of the policy of Aurangzlb 1 (1658-1707), who 
was a strict and orthodox Muhammadan, to give great en- 
couragement to Muhammadan education. He was hard 
indeed on the Hindus, and in 1669 ordered the destruction of 
temples and the prohibition of Hindu teaching and worship at 
Benares and other places. He also once confiscated the 
buildings belonging to the Dutch in Lucknow and made them 
over to a Muhammadan for use as a college. Towards 
Muhammadan education, however, Aurangzlb showed great 
* Law, pp. 187-193. 



favour. In the Miraf-i-Alam 1 we read : ‘ All the mosques in 
the empire are repaired at the public expense. Imams , criers 
to the daily prayers, and readers of the khutba , have been 
appointed to each of them, so that a large sum of money has 
been and is still laid out in these disbursements. In all the 
cities and towns of this extensive country, pensions and 
allowances and lands have been given to learned men and 
professors, and stipends have been fixed for scholars according 
to their abilities and qualifications.’ Besides these stipends for 
professors and students Aurangzlb founded a large number of 
colleges and schools. He sent orders to the provinces of Gujarat 
and other places that all Muhammadan students were to be given 
pecuniary help. He also took steps to have the Bohras of 
Gujarat educated, and for this purpose teachers were appointed 
and monthly examinations were to be held, the results of 
which were to be reported to the emperor. Colleges were] 
also erected in this reign by private individuals, and at this 
time Sialkot, which began to be a place of learning about the 
time of Akbar, came into prominence as an educational centre. 
Aurangzlb added to the Imperial Library many Muhammadan 
theological works. Though narrow in his literary and theo- 
logical outlook he was not without learning, and he not only 
knew his mother tongue of Turkish, but could read and write 
Arabic and Persian with great facility. He had learnt the 
Koran by heart and also the Hadis, or traditions, and was well 
versed in Muhammadan theology. 

We learn that it was the practice with young princes when 
they reached the age of four years, four months, and four days, 
to perform the ‘ maktab ceremony.’ The child was seated in 
the schoolhouse and formally handed over to tutors for his 
instruction to commence. We read of this ceremony being 
performed in the case of Humayun, and it is also said to have 
taken place in the case of Akbar, although there is a doubt 
1 Elliot, vii. 159. 

1 3 2 


about his literacy. This custom seems also to have become 
common amongst other Muhammadan boys, and is still in use 
in India . 1 The young princes were first taught to read and 
write their mother tongue. With regard to their education 
Catrou, following Manucci, says 2 : ‘ Whilst the princes remain 
in the harem, under the eye of their father, a eunuch is charged 
with their education. They are taught to read and sometimes 
to write in Arabic and in Persian. Their bodies are formed 
to military exercises, and they are instructed in the principles 
of equity. They are taught to decide rationally upon subjects 
of dispute which occur, or on suppositious suits at law. Finally 
they are instructed in the Muhammadan religion, and in the 
interests of the nation, which they may be called one day to 
govern.’ There is an incident in the life of Aurangzlb which 
throws a valuable sidelight on the education of the young 
Muhammadan princes, and also gives to us that monarch’s 
views upon the subject. It is related to us by the French 
traveller Bernier, who got a report of the incident from one 
who was present . 3 

Aurangzlb’s old tutor, Mulla Shah, hearing of his pupil’s 
success in gaining the throne, went to visit him, expecting 
reward and advancement. For three months Aurangzlb re- 
fused to see him, and when at last he saw him he spoke as 
follows : ‘ Pray, what is your pleasure with me, Mulla-jl ? Do 
you pretend that I ought to exalt you to the first honours 
of the State ? Let us examine your title to any mark of dis- 
tinction. I do not deny you would possess such a title if you 
had filled my young mind with suitable instruction. Show me 
a well-educated youth and I will say that it is doubtful who 
has the stronger claim to his gratitude, his father or his tutor. 
But what was the knowledge I derived under your tuition? 

1 In the Panjab the ‘ tnaktab ceremony ’ is called ‘ bismi' llah ’. 

■ Catrou, p. 288. 

3 Bernier's Travels , pp. 155 ff. 



You taught us that the whole of Franguistan (Europe) was 
no more than some inconsiderable island, of which the most 
powerful monarch was formerly the king of Portugal, then he 
of Holland, and afterwards the king of England. In regard 
to the other sovereigns of Franguistan, such as the king of 
France and him of Andalusia, you told me that they resembled 
our petty rajas, and that the potentates of Hindustan eclipsed 
the glory of all other kings ; that they alone were 'Humayuns, 
Akbars, Jahangirs or Shah Jahans; the Happy, the Great, the 
Conquerors of the World and the Kings of the World 1 ; and 
that Persia, Usbec, Kashgar, Tartary, and Cathay, Pegu, Siam, 
China, trembled at the names of the kings of the Indies. 
Admirable geographer ! deeply-read historian ! Was it not 
incumbent upon my preceptor to make me acquainted with 
the distinguishing features of every nation of the earth ; its 
resources and strength; its mode of warfare, its manners, 
religion, form of government, and wherein its interests princi- 
pally consist ; and by a regular course of historical reading to 
render me familiar with the origin of states, their progress and 
decline ; the events, accidents, or errors, owing to which such 
great changes and mighty revolutions have been effected ? 
Far from having imparted to me a profound and compre- 
hensive knowledge of the history of mankind, scarcely did 
I learn from you the names of my ancestors, the renowned 
founders of this empire. You kept me in total ignorance of 
their lives, of the events which preceded, and the extraordinary 
talents that enabled them to achieve their extensive conquests. 
A familiarity with the languages of surrounding nations may be 
indispensable in a king ; but you would teach me to read and 
write Arabic, doubtless conceiving that you placed me under 
an everlasting obligation for sacrificing so large a portion of 
time to the study of a language wherein no one can hope to be- 
come proficient without ten or twelve years of close application. 

1 These are the meanings of the names of these sovereigns. 



Forgetting how many important subjects ought to be em- 
braced in the education of a prince, you acted as if it were 
chiefly necessary that he should possess great skill in grammar, 
and such knowledge as belongs to a doctor of law ; and thus 
did you waste the precious hours of my youth in the dry, 
unprofitable, and never-ending task of learning words.’ 
Bernier goes on to say that some of the learned men, either 
wishing to flatter the monarch and add energy to his speech, 
or actuated by jealousy of the mulla , affirm that the king’s 
reproof did not end here, but that, when he had spoken for 
a short time on other subjects, he continued his speech as 
follows : — 

‘ Were you not aware that it is during the period of 
infancy, when the memory is commonly so retentive, that the 
mind may receive a thousand wise precepts ; and be easily 
furnished with isuch valuable instructions as will elevate it 
with lofty conceptions, and render the individual capable of 
glorious deeds ? Can we repeat our prayers, or acquire a 
knowledge of law and of the sciences only through the medium 
of Arabic ? May not our devotions be offered up as accept- 
ably, and solid information communicated as easily, in our 
mother tongue? You gave my father, Shah Jahan, to under- 
stand that you instructed me in philosophy ; and, indeed, I 
have a perfect remembrance of your having, during several 
years, harassed my brain with idle and foolish propositions, 
the solution of which yield no satisfaction to the mind — pro- 
positions which seldom enter into the business of life; wild 
and extravagant reveries conceived with great labour and for- 
gotten as soon as conceived ; whose only effect is to fatigue 
and ruin the intellect, and to render a man headstrong and 
insufferable. O yes, you caused me to devote the most valu- 
able years of my life to your favourite hypotheses, or systems, 
and when I left you, I could boast of no greater attainment in 
the sciences than the use of many obscure and uncouth terms, 



calculated to discourage, confound, and appal a youth of the 
most masculine understanding ; terms invented to cover the 
vanity and ignorance of pretenders to philosophy ; of men 
who, like yourself, would impose the belief that they transcend 
others of their species in wisdom, and that their dark and 
ambiguous jargon conceals many profound mysteries known 
only to themselves. If you had taught me that philosophy 
which adapts the mind to reason, and will not suffer it to rest, 
satisfied with anything short of the most solid arguments; if 
you had inculcated lessons which elevate the soul and fortify 
it against the assaults of fortune, tending to produce that envi- 
able equanimity which is neither insolently elated by pros- 
perity, nor basely depressed by adversity, if you had made 
me acquainted with the nature of men ; accustomed me always 
to refer to first principles, and given me a sublime and adequate 
conception of the universe, and of the order and regular motion 
of its parts ; if such, I say, had been the nature of the philo- 
sophy imbibed under your tuition, I should be more indebted 
to you than Alexander was to Aristotle, and should consider 
it my duty to bestow a very different reward on you than 
Aristotle received from that Prince. Answer me, sycophant, 
ought you not to have instructed me on one point at least, so 
essential to be known by a king ; namely, on the reciprocal 
duties between the sovereign and his subjects ? Ought you 
not also to have foreseen that I might, at some future period, 
be compelled to contend with my brothers, sword in hand, for 
the crown, and for my very existence ? Such, as you must 
well know, has been the fate of the children of almost every 
king of Hindustan. Did you ever instruct me in the art of 
war, how to besiege a town, or draw up an army in battle 
array ? Happy for me that I consulted wiser heads than thine 
on these subjects ! Go. Withdraw to thy village. Hence- 
forth let no person know either who thou art, or what is 
become of thee.’ 

* 3 6 


Making all due allowance for any embellishments added 
consciously or unconsciously by Bernier, this pronouncement 
upon the subject of education is most interesting and note- 
worthy. It makes very little difference whether part of it 
came from Aurangzlb’s counsellors or not, for taking it as it 
stands it gives the view of Muhammadan education held by 
the seventeenth-century men of affairs in India and their 
criticism of its defects. Aurangzlb’s part in this pronounce- 
ment is all the more remarkable from the fact of his being an 
orthodox Muhammadan, who himself had a good knowledge 
of Arabic and delighted to read and study Muhammadan 
theological works. He was not a broad-minded student of 
human nature like Akbar, whose philosophic outlook was a 
species of eclecticism. But narrow as were Aurangzlb’s views 
on some questions he was a shrewd and able ruler, and saw 
the need of a more satisfactory education than he himself had 
received. He was not objecting to the theological basis of his 
education, but to the pedantry and formalism which character- 
ized it. He objects to the mere learning of words and terms 
without the power to understand or use them, and which had 
no vital connection with the world outside the school. The 
study of Arabic must have become as formal as the study of 
the classics had become in the schools of seventeenth-century 
Europe, and Aurangzlb objects to the wasting of so much time 
in obtaining mere skill in grammar. We have seen how Akbar 
seems to have placed a great emphasis on the teaching of 
scientific subjects. Aurangzlb appears to be pleading for 
a broad humanism in which history, geography, and the 
languages of the surrounding nations would have a large 
place. The formation of high ideals, and of such habits of 
thought and action as would enable the pupil to meet all the 
difficulties of life with wisdom and courage are also set forth 
as necessary to a good education. The desirability of con- 
necting the education given with the vocation to be followed 



by the pupil in after-life is another educational aim which 
Aurangzlb proposes. All this has the appearance of being 
very modern, and it is of the highest interest to find these two 
monarchs, Akbar and Aurangzlb, who are amongst the greatest 
rulers of India, and who were in so many ways different from 
each other in character and outlook on life, each advocating 
some of those very reforms in education which are being called 
for loudly at the present time. The only pity is that neither 
of them seems to have gone very far in giving practical effect 
to the educational ideals which they set forth. 

After the death of Aurangzlb the glory of the Mughal 
empire began rapidly to wane, and the efforts made by 
emperors or private individuals to erect and endow educa- 
tional institutions became much more rare. There is record 
of two madrasahs having been founded at Delhi during the 
reign of Aurangzlb’s successor, Bahadur Shah 1 2 (1707-1712). 
One of these buildings erected by Ghazl-ud-dln, an officer of 
Aurangzlb, is still in existence though no longer used as a 
college. It is typical of many such buildings, having in the 
same enclosure the college, a mosque, and the tomb of the 
founder.2 It was closed in 1793 for want of funds. The 
invasion of Nadir Shah, which took place in 1739 and resulted 
in the sack of Delhi, must have been a great set-back to educa- 
tional progress. Among other things the Imperial Library, 
which had been built up by the interest of many sovereigns, 
was carried away by Nadir Shah to Persia. 3 

With regard to the education of women J it was just as 
much restricted amongst Muhammadans as amongst Hindus. 
The pardah system, which shut up. all Muhammadan women, 
except young girls, in seclusion, made their education a matter 
of great difficulty even where it may have been desired, which 

1 Law, p. 194. 

2 Fanshawe’s Delhi Past and Present , p. 64. 

3 Law, p. 198. 4 Ibid , , pp. 200 ff. 


does not seem to have been often the case. We have evidence 1 
that sometimes young girls were taught in schools as well as 
boys, but their leaving school at a very early age must have 
prevented their education being carried very far. It seems 
that sometimes in the harem of kings or nobles some attempt 
was made to give education to the ladies who lived within, and 
some of them attained to great distinction. Ghiyas-ud-dln, 
who was ruler of Malwa from 1469-1500, is said 2 to have 
appointed school-mistresses for the ladies of his harem, and 
Akbar also made a similar arrangement for his household, and 
certain rooms were set apart at Fathpur Sikri for this pur- 
pose. Raziya, who sat on the throne of Delhi after her father 
Altamsh, was an educated princess and patronized men of 
learning. The daughter of Babar, Gul-Badan Begam, wrote 
the Humayun Ndmah , or memoirs of her brother Humayun. 
It is said also that she had her own library and used to collect 
books. The niece of Humayun, who became one of Akbar’s 
wives, wrote poems in Persian. The nurse of Akbar, Maham 
Anaga, mentioned above, 3 was an educated lady. Nur Jahan, 
the wife of Jahangir, who helped her husband to rule his 
empire, and her niece Mumtaz Mahal, who was the favourite 
wife' of Shah Jahan, and in memory of whom he erected the 
Taj Mahal at Agra, were both educated. So also was Jahanara 
Begam, the eldest daughter of Shah Jahan, and she had been 
instructed by a learned lady named Satiunnisa. The eldest 
daughter of Aurangzlb, Zlbunnisa Begam, was acquainted with 
both Persian and Arabic. It is probable that many other royal 
and noble ladies, whose names have not been recorded, also 
received some education behind the pardah, but even so they 
were few compared with the great mass of Muhammadan 
women who received no education at all, except a domestic 
training in the performance of the duties of the household. 

1 See Ja’far Sharif, Qdnun-i-Islam, p. 32. 

- Ferishta, iv. 237. 3 See p. 122. 



It is very difficult to estimate the extent of Muhammadan 
education in early times. As we have seen, the Emperor 
Babar, and at a later date the traveller Bernier, give a very 
unfavourable view of the extent of education in India. But 
their opinions cannot be accepted without considerable quali- 
fication, for we have, on the other hand, the record of the 
building of numerous madrasahs and of the existence of im- 
portant educational centres, at places like Delhi, Agra, and 
Jaunpur. The Muhammadan population was, -no doubt, in 
many places largely a town population as it is to-day (except in 
the Panjab), and it was in the cities of importance that madra- 
sahs are said to have been established. We have no idea as to 
the average number of students attending a college. Probably 
this varied considerably from just a few pupils with one 
teacher, to a large number with many teachers in the more 
important places. Probably most mosques had attached to 
them, if not a madrasah, then a maktab, or primary school. 
All Muhammadan boys were supposed to attend a maktab in 
order that they might at least learn the portions of the Koran 
required for the Muhammadan daily devotions, but we cannot 
be sure that they always did so. The content of the educa- 
tion given in the maktabs must have been very different 
in different places. When the Muhammadan boy begins to 
speak he should be taught to repeat the Muhammadan article 
of belief (the kalima). After that certain prescribed verses 
from the Koran have to be learnt by heart. At about seven 
years of age he begins to learn the Koran, and receives in- 
structions in religious precepts and usages. This seems to be 
the minimum education given in a maktab. In some cases, 
however, reading and writing were also taught and some 
elementary arithmetic. To this might be added legends of 
prophets and anecdotes of Muhammadan saints, and perhaps 
some selections from poets. The teaching of Persian must 
have begun at some time during the Muhammadan rule, and 



Persian schools became widespread, as this language was 
required by those who wished for employment in government 
service. These schools are referred to again later in the 
chapter on popular education. With regard to modern 
survivals of Koran schools in India, the Quinquennial Review 
of Education 1 quotes Mr. de la Fosse as saying that these ‘ are 
usually attached to a mosque . . . the scholars commence 
by studying the Arabic alphabet, and as soon as they can read 
are made to recite suras, or chapters of the Koran. Neither 
writing nor arithmetic is taught. So far as my experience goes 
instruction is usually confined to reading and memorizing, but 
sometimes an attempt is also made to explain the meaning of 
what is read. This, however, is rare.’ 

The content of the education given in the madrasahs also 
must have varied in different places. Probably not every 
school taught all the subjects, and pupils selected such as they 
wished to study. Adam, in his report on education in Bengal 
(1835-1838), says with regard to the madrasahs 2 : ‘In the 
Arabic schools the course of study takes a much wider range. 
The grammatical works are numerous, systematized, and pro- 
found ; complete courses of reading on rhetoric, logic, and 
law are embraced ; the external observances and fundamental 
doctrines of Islam, and Ptolemy on astronomy in translation, 
are not unknown ; other branches of natural philosophy are 
also taught ; and the whole course is crowned by the perusal of 
treatises on metaphysics, deemed the highest attainment of the 
instructed scholar.’ It is interesting to compare this list of 
subjects with those which formed the curriculum of the uni- 
versities of Europe in the Middle Ages. We find a very close 
correspondence between them. The ‘ Seven Liberal Arts ’ all 
appear except dialectic and music. Dialectic was probably 
largely covered by rhetoric. Music did not have the same 

1 Quinquennial Review of Education in India , 1907-1912, p. 272. 

2 Adam's Reports , p. 215. 



connection with religious services as in Christian Europe, and 
therefore was not of such importance from the religious point 
of view. That it was cultivated we know from the encourage- 
ment given to it by Akbar and other sovereigns, though 
Aurangzlb could not tolerate it. The higher studies of 
mediaeval European universities, theology, law, and medicine, 
also appear in this list, except medicine. Medicine was, how- 
ever, studied, and even at the present time Muhammadan 
hakims , or physicians learned in the ancient medical lore, 
practise in India. Medicine appears in Akbar’s list of studies. 
Law was, of course, more closely connected with theology than 
in Europe, for in Islam it is based on the Koran and the 
Traditions, whereas in Europe it was the non-christian Roman 
law that was the basis of studies. We know that at a certain 
period in the Middle Ages Muhammadan learning in the West 
was full of intellectual vigour, and in many ways was the 
means of stimulating thought and mental activity amongst 
students in Europe. But the zenith of its influence was passed 
before it became widespread in India, and it is perhaps for 
this reason amongst others that it never attained to such an 
excellence and fame in India as in more western lands. The 
criticisms of Aurangzlb, as well as the statement of Adam, 
seems to show that Muhammadan learning in India, like the 
mediaeval learning of Europe, had become formal and scholastic, 
with a strong emphasis on grammar, and having as its climax 
the discussion of dry, abstract and metaphysical trivialities. 
That it often included more than this, as did the mediaeval 
education of Europe, we may be quite sure. Science of some 
kind was studied, and literature and history were also taught. 
History was, in fact, a very favourite subject amongst the 
Muhammadans of India, and the large number of historical 
works written by Muhammadan writers is in striking contrast 
with the paucity of Hindu historical literature. The critical 
and impartial spirit which modern scientific historians seek to 



cultivate is indeed lacking, nor could we really expect to find it 
in those days. We shall not be^very far wrong if we say that 
the state of Muhammadan learning in India was very much the 
same as that of learning in Europe before the introduction of 
printing. In the matter of the arts and crafts there was little 
difference, if any, between the training of the Hindu and 
Muhammadan craftsman, and this subject has been dealt with 
in the chapter on the training of special classes of the com- 
munity. In method also there was probably not much essential 
difference between the Hindu and Muhammadan education. 
Rote learning was given a large place, and the principal .aim 
of the teacher was to pass on to the pupil the learned traditions 
which he himself had received. 

It must be remembered that Muhammadan education was 
at best confined, to a very large extent, to that minority of 
the population which embraced the religion of Islam. At first 
this minority was very small, and it has never included more 
than about one-fifth of the population. For centuries the 
Muhammadans were little more than an armed garrison in a 
foreign land, and though many inhabitants of India joined the 
Muhammadan religion the learned class of the Brahmans held 
firmly to their old faith. In spite of this, however, the extent 
and influence of the Muhammadan education in India was by no 
means inconsiderable. Its fluctuating and uncertain character 
was very largely the result of despotic rule which indulged 
in sudden impulses and afforded no certainty of the con- 
tinuance of any new undertaking, as shown in the many Delhis 
which were built and deserted. The same happened in the 
case of the madrasahs. Moreover the poverty of the country 
and the rapacity of officials stifled the popular demand for 
education. The maktab attached to the mosque was probably 
the most permanent of Muhammadan educational institutions 
in India, and those of them which taught Persian, a language 
which was required for official use, were resorted to even by 



Hindus who wished to acquire this language, and thus had an 
influence on a considerable proportion of the population. They 
formed part of that system of popular elementary education 
which will be described in a later chapter . 1 

1 With regard to schools of the old type still existing, the Quinquennial 
Review for 1 907- 19 12 reports that in 1912 there were 1446 Arabic and 
Persian schools, and 8288 Koran schools, as against 2051 and 10,504 in 
1907. Pupils had also decreased. 



We have already seen how from the earliest times we can 
trace the presence of an extensive educational system in India. 
In the case of both Hindus and Muhammadans this was con- 
nected closely with religion. Hindu education was in the 
hands of the Brahmans and mainly intended for them, though 
the other higher castes were not excluded. Muhammadan 
education centred round the mosque and was supervised by 
the maulvis. Certain classes of the community also had their 
own special forms of education. 

Side by side, however, with these systems there grew up at 
some time and in most parts of India a popular system of 
elementary education which was open generally to all comers. 
It must have arisen to supply a popular demand for instruc- 
tion in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and was made use of 
chiefly by the trading and agricultural classes. 

At the renewal of the charter of the East India Company 
in 1813 a lakh of rupees was ordered to be set apart every 
year for the promotion of literature and education. This led 
to the various local governments of India making inquiries as 
to indigenous education. The result of those inquiries has 
been that we have a valuable record of education in India 
as it existed before Western influences had seriously aflfected 
it, and before those modern developments took place which 
have had such a far-reaching influence upon India. The 


inquiry for the Madras Presidency was carried out in 
1822-1826; that for Bombay in 1823-1828. It is, however, 
the report of William Adam, who was appointed by Lord 
William Bentinck to carry out the inquiry in the Bengal 
Presidency, that is the most full of interest. It was published 
in 1835-1838, and throws most valuable light on the state of 
education in India at that time. In order to get an intensive 
rather than merely an extensive view of the situation, Adam 
did not attempt to survey the whole province, but rather to 
choose typical districts in various parts of the presidency and 
make a thorough examination into the existing state of affairs. 
Besides the Hindu tols and Muhammadan madrasahs , which 
were places of higher learning, there were found Hindu pdth- 
sdlas and Muhammadan maktabs. 

The pathsalas existed in all the larger villages as well as 
in the towns. The teacher and scholars numbering usually 
about a dozen or twenty met in the early morning under a 
tree in the village or in the shade of a verandah. Sometimes 
a temple shed or other building might be set apart for their 
use. The teachers were mostly Kayasths (the writer caste). 1 
The teaching of reading, writing, and accounts was considered 
a proper occupation for that caste, whereas Brahmans, Vaidyas, 
and Kshatriyas were supposed to degrade themselves by such 
an occupation. There were, however, some Brahman teachers, 
and many other castes were represented amongst the teachers, 
even those of the lowest castes. In Burdwan Adam found 
two teachers who were lepers. 2 There were no regular fees, 
but the teachers received presents averaging about Rs.4 or 
Rs.5 a month. 3 They often eked out their income by farm- 
ing or trade. 4 Among the scholars also there were a very 
large number of castes represented, 5 including some of those 

1 Adam's Reports, p. 158. 2 Ibid., p. 168. 

3 Ibid., p. 160. 4 Ibid., p. 168. 

5 Ibid., p. 160. 



considered ‘ untouchable ’ by the higher castes. Brahmans and 
Kayasths predominated. The age of the scholars was from 
about five or six to sixteen. The aim of the schools was 
strictly utilitarian, and Adam laments the neglect of moral 
instruction. 1 The curriculum included reading, writing, the 
composition of letters and elementary arithmetic and accounts, 
either commercial or agricultural or both. Very few text- 
books were in use, and those that were used were often most 
unsuitable, such as a reading-book containing an account of 
the amours of the god Krishna with his cowherd mistress 
Radha. 2 There were four stages of instruction. In the first 
period the scholar was taught to form letters on the ground 
with a small stick. This period usually lasted about ten days. 
In the next period the master traced letters on a palm leaf 
with an iron style. The scholar then traced over the letters 
with a reed pen and charcoal ink, which easily rubs out. This 
process was repeated over and over on the same leaf till the 
scholar no longer needed a copy to guide him. Then he 
practised on another leaf. He was afterwards exercised in 
writing and pronouncing the compound consonants, which in 
most Indian languages are modified when written together. 
Then practice was given in the combination of vowels and 
consonants, and this led on to the common names of persons. 
In the third period the palm leaf was replaced by the larger 
plantain leaf. The scholar now began to learn the composi- 
tion of the simplest forms of letters. He was taught the con- 
nection of words in sentences and to distinguish literary from 
colloquial forms of speech. The rules of arithmetic now 
began with addition and subtraction. But multiplication and 
division were not taught as separate rules. These were effected 
by addition and subtraction, aided by multiplication tables 
which extend to twenty. The multiplication table was re- 
peated aloud by the whole school once every morning. After 
1 Adam, p. ioi. 2 Ibid,, pp. 98 ff. 


this the pupil began to learn commercial or agricultural 
accounts or both. When the scholar reached the fourth 
period he received more advanced instruction in accounts 
and began the composition of business letters, petitions, 
grants, and similar productions. Paper now began to be 
used for writing, and after this had been used for about a 
year the scholars were considered as qualified to engage in 
the unassisted perusal of Bengali works like the Ramayana 
and Manasa Mangal. 

It is to be noted that in learning, writing came before 
reading. Except for the united repetition of multiplication 
tables and exercises of that kind, the instruction was individual, 
and monitors were commonly chosen from among the more 
advanced scholars to help those at a more elementary stage of 
instruction. Dr. Andrew Bell got his idea of the monitorial 
system from what he had seen in indigenous schools in India. 

^ An account given by William Ward in his View of the 
Hindoos presents us with a similar picture of these indige- 
nous schools in Bengal. 1 ‘ Almost all the larger villages in 
Bengal contain common schools, where a boy learns his letters 
by writing them, never by pronouncing the alphabet as in 
Europe. He first writes them on the ground ; next with an 
iron style or a reed on a palm leaf ; and next on a green 
plantain leaf. After the simple letters he writes the com- 
pounds, then the names of men, villages, animals, etc., and 
then the figures. While employed in writing on leaves all the 
scholars stand up twice a day with a monitor at their head, 
and repeat the numerical tables, ascending from a unit to 
four, and from four to twenty, from twenty to eighty, and from 
eighty to 1280; and during school hours they write on the 
palm leaf the strokes by which these numbers are defined. 
They next commit to memory an addition table and count 
from one to a hundred ; and after this, on green plantain 
1 Ward, vol. i. pp. 160 ff. 

148 popular elementary education 

leaves, they write easy sums in addition and subtraction 
of money ; multiplication, and then reduction of money, 
measures, etc. The Hindu measures are all reducible to 
the weight, beginning with rattis and ending with manas 
(maunds). The elder boys, as the last course at these schools, 
learn to write common letters, agreements, etc. The Hindu 
schools begin early in the morning and continue till nine 
or ten o’clock; after taking some refreshment at home the 
scholars return about three and continue till dark. Masters 
punish with cane or rod, or a truant is compelled to stand on 
one leg holding up a brick in each hand or to have his arms 
stretched out till completely tired. Masters are generally 
respectable Siidras, but occasionally Brahmans.’ 

In the Report of the Education Commission of 1882 there 
is an account of an indigenous primary school in the Bombay 
Presidency which belongs, of course, to a later date but gives 
a similar picture. 1 ‘ The ordinary daily routine of a Hindu 
indigenous school is nearly the same in all parts of the Presi- 
dency. Each morning at about six o’clock the Pantoji, who 
is in some cases a Brahman, and the priest of many of the 
families whose children attend the school, goes round the 
village and collects his pupils. This process usually occupies 
some time. At one house the pupil has to be persuaded to 
come to school ; at another the parents have some special 
instructions to give the master regarding the refractoriness of 
their son ; at a third he is asked to administer chastisement 
on the spot. As soon as he has collected a sufficient number 
of his pupils he takes them to the school. For the first half- 
hour a Bhupali , or invocation to the sun, Saraswati, Ganapati, 
or some other deity, is chanted by the whole school. After 
this the boys who can write trace the letters of their kittas, or 
copy slips, with a dry pen, the object of this exercise being to 
give free play to the fingers and wrist, and to accustom them 
1 Bombay Report, p. 65. 


to the sweep of the letters. When the tracing lesson is over, 
the boys begin to write copies; and the youngest children, 
who have been hitherto merely looking on, are taken in hand 
either by the master’s son or by one of the elder pupils. The 
master himself generally confines his attention to one or two 
of the oldest pupils, and to those whose instruction he has 
stipulated to finish within a given time. All the pupils are 
seated in one small room or verandah, and the confusion of 
sounds, which arises from three or four sets of boys reading 
and shouting out their tables all at the same moment, almost 
baffles description.’ 

In the Madras Presidency these schools 1 are known as 
pyal schools. The pyal is a kind of bench or platform about 
three feet high and three feet broad, which is built against 
the wall of most houses in South India, and has in front a 
raised pavement or koradu. On the pyal visitors are received, 
the family sleep in the hot season, and it has many other 
uses also. For the village school a pyal is usually lent by the 
headman of the village. The scholars sit on the pyal, leaving 
the koradu for the teacher and for their own passage. The 
main purpose of these pyal schools, before modern develop- 
ments in education reformed them or pushed them out, was 
to give instruction in the three R’s, but of arithmetic only the 
simplest elements were taught. A great deal of time was 
spent in construing and memorizing beautiful but obscure 
poems, written in the ‘ high ’ dialect (which differs not only 
from the colloquial, but even from the modern literary 
dialect). The average number of children was about twenty- 
one, and the school had no apparatus except the sandy 
ground, certain small blackboards, and some kajan leaves for 
writing. A sort of discipline was maintained by a constant 
and often severe use of the cane. Unruly or truant boys 

1 See article in Indian Antiquary for Feb., 1873, p. 5 2 > by C. E. 
Cover, from which this account is taken. 


were coerced by punishments that partook of torture. The 
teacher was usually a Brahman. When a new scholar was to 
be received into the school the teacher and his scholars came 
to his house and he was handed over to the teacher by his 
parents. Various religious and other ceremonies were per- 
formed, and amongst other things the master made the new 
pupil repeat the whole alphabet three times, taught him a 
prayer to Ganesa, and guided his hand in writing in a flat 
vessel of rice the name of Vishnu or Siva. The pay of the 
teacher might be as much as Rs.15 to Rs.25 a month in 
the case of pupils whose parents were wealthy; but in pyal 
schools for poorer boys his emoluments only amounted to 
Rs.5 to a month. The pay of the teacher was 
received not only by regular monthly fees, but by certain 
customary presents on festivals and other occasions. Besides 
learning the three R’s, a pupil obtained a knowledge, though 
generally a very unintelligent one, of about four or five of the 
great classics of the Tamil or the Telugu language. These 
books being also the moral code of the people, had value 
from the point of view of moral training. Some of these 
books, which had been printed in cheap editions, were in the 
hands of the scholars, but very often only the teacher 
possessed the books. Writing was taught in close connection 
with reading, and the pupil began his writing lessons when 
he commenced the alphabet. The alphabet was learned by 
writing with the finger on the sandy ground. Later he began 
to write with a pencil on a kind of small blackboard or slate 
(called a palaka), the surface of which was prepared from rice 
and charcoal. Then he had the privilege eventually of writing 
either with an iron style on kajan leaves, or with a reed pen on 
paper. Trading or agricultural accounts were taught as well 
as the composition of notes-of-hand, leases, agreements, etc., 
and the reading of the vernacular current hand. Education 
began usually at the age of five years. School commenced at 


about six o’clock in the morning. In the afternoon of each 
school day the pupil copied the next day’s lesson on his 
palaka , and showed it to the master, who corrected it and 
heard him read it two or three times. The pupil then took 
it home and learnt it by heart for repetition to the teacher 
next morning. 

Thus in various parts of India we find that there were 
existing popular elementary schools having the same general 
features though differing in some details. 

It is interesting to compare with the above accounts a 
picture given to us of a school in South India by a traveller, 
Pietra della Valle, who visited India in 1623. 1 

‘ In the mean time, while the burthens were getting in 
order, I entertained myself in the Porch of the Temple, 
beholding little boys learning arithmetic after a strange 
manner, which I will here relate. They were four, and 
having all taken the same lesson from the master, in order 
to get that same by heart and repeat likewise their former 
lessons and not forget them, one of them singing musically 
with a certain continu’d tone (which hath the force of making 
deep impression in the memory) recited part of the lesson ; as 
for example, “ One by itself makes one ” ; and whilst he was 
thus speaking he writ down the same number, not with any 
kind of pen, nor on paper, but (not to spend paper in vain) 
with his finger on the ground, the pavement being for that pur- 
pose strew’d all over with very fine sand ; after the first had writ 
what he sung, all the rest sung and writ down the same thing 
together. Then the first boy sung and writ down another part 
of the lesson; as, for example, “Two by itself makes two”, 
which all the rest repeated in the same manner, and so forward 
in order. When the pavement was full of figures they put 
them out with the hand, and if need were, strew’d it with new 
sand from a little heap which they had before them wherewith 
1 Travels of P. della Valle (Hakluyt Society), ii. 227. 


to write further. And thus they did as long as the exercise 
continu’d, in which manner likewise, they told me, they learnt 
to read and write without spoiling paper, pens, or ink, which 
certainly is a pretty way.’ 

This widespread vernacular elementary education existed 
side by side with the Sanskrit schools, and there was no mutual 
dependence or connection between them. The former existed 
for the trading and commercial classes, and the latter for the 
religious and the learned. In the case of Muhammadan 
education, however, we find that there was a close connection 
between the Arabic schools of higher learning, or madrasahs , 
and the Persian schools or vialrfabs. The latter corresponded 
to the Hindu vernacular schools. Urdu was the current 
language amongst the Muhammadans, but this vernacular 
was not used as the medium of instruction. Urdu is written 
with Persian characters, and contains a large number of 
Persian words, but was considered as a patois unfit to be 
used as a language in the schools. Its place was taken by 
Persian, which had been made the court language by the 
Muhammadan Emperors, and continued to be used as such 
till 1835. A knowledge of Persian was therefore necessary 
to obtain an appointment in the Government service, and the 
Persian schools were attended by Hindus as well as Muham- 
madans, especially by Hindus of the Brahman and Kayasth 
castes. Most of the teachers were Muhammadans, and 
Adam considered that as a class they were superior to the 
Bengali and Hindi teachers. 1 They were, however, more 
dependent for their support on single families or individual 
patrons. A few of them were also Arabic teachers, and 
possessed high qualifications. Their emoluments, as a rule, 
amounted to Rs.5 to Rs.7 a month. The subjects studied in- 
cluded elementary 'grammatical works and forms of correspond- 
ence, and popular poems and tales were read. Occasionally 
1 Adam's Reports , p. 215. 


a work on rhetoric or a treatise on medicine or theology 
was studied. The Gulistan of Sa’di was a very favourite text- 
book. Sections of the Koran were learned by heart, and the 
schools had a more religious connection than the Hindu 
vernacular schools, but Adam did not consider them morally 
superior to the Hindu schools. 1 The Hindu schools were 
vernacular and commercial ; but the Muhammadan schools 
were also to some extent literary and philological, and em- 
ployed a learned language. Printed works were not used, but 
manuscripts were in constant use. In contra-distinction to 
the Hindu vernacular schools, reading was taught before 
writing. Elegant penmanship was much cultivated. Adam 
also found some schools in which elementary Arabic was 
taught, but these existed merely to give the boys that know- 
ledge of certain portions of the Koran which is necessary for 
Muhammadans. They taught mere names and forms and 
sounds, and it was considered sufficient for the boys to be 
able to repeat the required portions without understanding 
them. 2 Some of the teachers did not pretend to be able even 
to sign their names. There were also a few schools in 
which both Persian and Bengali were taught. 

Besides the instruction in the schools there were also a 
certain number of children receiving instruction at home. 
William Ward says, 3 ‘ Hindu women are unable to teach 
their children their first lessons, but a father may frequently 
be seen teaching his child to write the alphabet when five 
years old ’. Rich men often employed a tutor to teach their 
children, and when other children were admitted to share in 
this instruction it sometimes grew into a school. Girls, as a 
rule, received no education; but daughters of Rajput nobles 
or of zamlndars often received a limited education from their 
fathers or family priests. 

1 Adam’s Reports , p. 102. 

2 See also p. 140 above, where the report of Mr. de la Fosse on 

modern Koran schools is quoted. 3 Ward, i. 160. 


There was then, before the British Government took 
over control of education in India, a widespread, popular, 
indigenous system. It was not confined to one or two 
provinces, but was found in various parts of India, though 
some districts were more advanced than others. In the 
inquiry made for the Madras Presidency in 1822-6, it was' 
calculated that rather less than one-sixth of the boys of school- 
going age received education of some sort. 1 In the similar 
inquiry made for the Bombay Presidency (r 823-8) the number 
of boys under instruction was put down as about one in 
eight. 2 In one of the districts in Bengal, where Adam carried 
out his inquiry, he found 3 i3'2 per cent, of the whole male 
population receiving instruction. In another district he found 
9 per cent, of all children of school-going age under instruction. 
William Ward says, 4 that it was supposed that about one-fifth 
of the male population of Bengal could read. In some parts 
of India the number under instruction would probably be less 
than in the three provinces mentioned. Widespread, therefore, 
as elementary education was, it did not include a very large 
proportion even of the male population, and amongst females 
of course it hardly existed at all. 

An important question which arises with regard to this 
system of popular elementary education is, ‘ When did it 
begin ? ’ We have seen that it was in full swing at the 
beginning of the nineteenth century when investigations were 
carried out by the Governments of Bengal, Bombay, and 
Madras, in various parts of India. But how far back can it 
be traced ? 

The Brahman authorities, like the Sutras and the Code of 
Manu, have no reference to any form of literary education 

1 See Madras Report for Ed. Com., 1882. 

- F. W. Thomas, Hist, and Prospects of Brit. Ed. in India, ch. i. 

3 Adam, pp. 117, 232. 

3 Ward, ii. 503. 


outside of the Brahmanical schools. But silence in works of 
this kind is not certain evidence that facilities for primary 
education did not exist, and the Brahmans may have had 
reasons for wishing to ignore any forms of education which 
were not in their own hands. The duties of Yai6yas, as 
outlined in Manu, included, as we have noticed, 1 such things 
as a knowledge of measures and weights, of probable profit 
and loss on merchandise, of the languages of men, of the 
manner of keeping goods, and the rules of purchase and sale. 
Part of this knowledge at least was probably learnt in the 
course : of business, being passed on from father to son, but 
it is quite conceivable that even in very early times some 
merchants or others may have employed a teacher, or founded 
a small school, for the instruction of their sons in the elements 
of these subjects. 2 There is, at any rate, evidence to show 
that the knowledge of reading and writing was fairly widespread 
in India long before the time of Manu. 

Writing was introduced into India about 800 b.c., and the 
elaboration of the Brahml script was completed by about 
500 b.c. or even earlier. 3 A Buddhist tract called the Silas, 
which dates from about 450 b.c ., 4 gives a list of children’s 
games. One of these is called Akkharika (Lettering), which 
is explained as ‘Guessing at letters traced in the air, or on 
a playfellow’s back’. Such a game amongst children seems 
to show that the knowledge of the alphabet was prevalent at 
least amongst a certain section of the community, perhaps 
those who belonged to the trading and commercial classes, for 
it is they who would have the greatest need for a knowledge 
of reading and writing, and neither the Brahman nor the 
Buddhist sacred books seem to have been committed to 

1 See p. 72. 

2 For present-day ‘Mahajani schools see p. 73. 

3 J. G. Biihler, Indian Paleography, p. 17. 

4 Rhys Davids, Buddhist India, p. 108. 


writing till a very much later date. The ancient writers 
Nearchus and Q. Curtius, in the last quarter of the fourth 
century b.c., refer to the custom of the Indians of writing 
letters on cloth and bark ; and Megasthenes, at a slightly later 
date, speaks of the use of milestones to indicate distances and 
halting-places on the high-roads. 1 In another passage, how- 
ever, Megasthenes relates that judicial cases in India were 
decided according to unwritten laws, and that the Indians 
knew no letters. Taking these passages together it seems 
that at that time writing was used for public or private noti- 
fications, but that it had not begun to be used for the purposes 
of literature. It is then probable that the knowledge and use 
of writing, though widespread, was confined to the commercial 
and official classes, but this does not necessarily imply the 
existence of schools for teaching these arts. 

In the Mahavagga there is an interesting passage which is 
translated as follows 2 : — 

‘ At that time there was in Rajagaha a company of seven- 
teen boys, friends of each other ; young Upali was first among 
them. Now Upali’s father and mother thought : “ How will 
Upali after our death live a life of ease and without pain? If 
Upali could learn writing ( lekhd ), he would after our death live 
a life of ease and without pain.” But then Upali’s father and 
mother thought again: “If Upali learns writing his fingers 
will become sore. But if Upali could learn arithmetic 
(ganana), he would after our death live a life of ease and 
without pain.” But then Upali’s father and mother thought 
again : “ If Upali learns arithmetic, his breast will become 
diseased. But if Upali could learn money-changing (rufia), 
he would after our death live a life of ease and comfort and 
without pain.” But then Upali’s father and mother said to 
themselves : “ If Upali learns money-changing, his eyes will 
suffer.” The result was that it was decided that Upali should 
1 J. G. Biihler, Indian Paleography, p. 6. 2 Mahavagga , i. 49. 


become a monk and join the sangha , and he and his com- 
panions were all admitted, but on account of their unruly con- 
duct it was laid down that persons under twenty should not in 
future receive the full, or upasampada, ordination. 

This passage seems to show that at the time when the 
Mahavagga was composed it was not uncommon for some 
boys at least to learn writing and arithmetic, and that there 
were some facilities for this, and that these were outside the 
monasteries. It does not seem likely that at this time the 
monasteries had begun to be schools of popular instruction, 
and it is indeed probable that at first the only teaching given 
to those who joined the sangha was a knowledge of the 
precepts and doctrines of Buddhism. This passage bears 
witness to the existence of elementary schools of some sort, 
and it is remarkable that the three subjects of the curriculum 
mentioned bear a striking resemblance to those of the indi- 
genous primary schools of India in much later times. Lekhd, 
(writing), 1 ganana (arithmetic, i.e. addition, subtraction, and the 
multiplication table) and riipa (literally 1 forms ’, but mean- 
ing arithmetic applied to simple commercial or agricultural 
purposes) are still the three subjects which are most prominent 
in the modern types of indigenous schools. According to the 
Elephant Cave inscription of the year 165 of the Mauryan era 
(about 157 or 148 b . c .), King Kharavela of Kalinga learnt 
these subjects in his childhood. 2 * The Lalita Vistara 3 refers 
to the learning of writing and of the alphabet by children. 
Jdtaka , No. 125, mentions the wooden writing-board (phalaka ) 
known (as well as the varnaka , or wooden pen) also to the 
Lalita Vistara , and still used in elementary schools. 4 There is 
a Sutta in Pali which is called the Sigalovdda Sutta 5 which 

1 J. G. Biihler, Indian Paleography, p. 5. 2 Ibid. 

3 Ch. x. 4 Biihler, op. cit ., p. 5. 

5 Quoted in Buddhism (1890) by T. W. Rhys Davids. Translated in 

Contemp. Rev., Feb., 1876, by Childers. 


enumerates the chief duties which men owe to one another in 
everyday life. Amongst the duties which are mentioned for 
parents are training their children in virtue and having them 
taught arts or sciences. It also contains a section which 
details the duties of pupils and teachers. The pupil should 
honour his teachers by rising in their presence, by ministering 
to them, by obeying them, by supplying their wants, by 
attention to instruction. The teacher should show his affec- 
tion to his pupils, by training them in all that is good, by 
teaching them to hold knowledge fast, by instruction in 
science and lore, by speaking well of them to their friends and 
companions, by guarding them from danger. The mention 
among the duties of parents of having their children taught 
arts or science need imply no more than passing on to them 
the knowledge of their own particular craft or trade ; but the 
mention of the duties of pupils and teachers in a manual 
relating to everyday life certainly seems to point to the existence 
of schools of some sort, though we cannot say that this implies 
the carrying on of secular instruction at the Buddhist 
monasteries. It seems rather to imply the existence of some 
"facilities for popular instruction outside the monasteries, 
though not necessarily widespread. 

The oldest known inscriptions in India are those of King 
Asoka, who reigned from 272 to 231 b.c. This monarch had 
erected in various parts of India edicts and inscriptions on 
rocks and pillars, many of which have been discovered. His 
chief object was to promote amongst his people Dharma or 
moral duty. These inscriptions are in the vernacular. ASoka 
also erected many monasteries. The existence of these edicts 
in the vernacular has been taken to imply that there was a 
widespread popular education going on in India at the time of 
A6oka. Thus Mr. V. A. Smith says 1 that the care taken to 
publish the imperial edicts implies that a knowledge of reading 
1 Aioka, p. 138. 


and writing was widely diffused, and that there is the same 
inference from the inscriptions being in the vernacular. He 
says also that it is probable that learning was fostered by the 
numerous monasteries, and that boys and girls in hundreds of 
villages learned their lessons from the monks and nuns, as 
they do now in Burma, and that it is likely that the percentage 
of literacy among the Buddhist population in Asoka’s time 
was higher than it is now in many parts of British India. 
The vernacular inscriptions of Asoka certainly seem to imply 
that there was a considerable amount of literacy, but what 
proportion of the population could read and write it seems 
quite impossible to conjecture. Even if only a few possessed 
these accomplishments it might have seemed quite worth 
while to ASoka to erect his monuments and have, inscriptions 
put on them, for the few could read them to the many. But 
it is very doubtful whether the Buddhist monasteries had 
become as early as this centres of a widespread popular 
instruction, and it is not certain that they ever became such 
in India. There is, however, evidence, as we have seen above, 
that before the time of A6oka facilities of some kind existed 
for giving elementary instruction, and the welding together of 
a large part of India into one empire, under the strong rule 
of the Mauryan sovereigns, must have given increased oppor- 
tunities for trade and commerce, and this may have also led 
to an increased demand for popular schools where the three 
R’s could be learnt. 

Buddhism placed both religion and education on a more 
popular basis than Brahmanism, and by breaking down the 
monopoly of higher learning which had been in the hands of 
the Brahman teachers, it may have also indirectly helped to 
increase the desire for primary education amongst the people. 
There was, moreover, about the first century of our era a most 
remarkable laymen’s movement in India. This is illustrated 
by the production of the Bhagavad Gita , which belongs to 


about that period, in which the possibility of the attainment 
of salvation by an earnest layman who does his duty is 
expounded, and also by the growth of the Mahayana form of 
Buddhism which holds out hopes of spiritual progress to those 
who are not able to forsake the world and become monks. 
This upheaval, both in Vaishnavism and in Buddhism, is the 
evidence of a widespread movement amongst laymen in India, 
and it w'ould be not unlikely that it would be also characterized 
by a growing desire for education. It is, perhaps, from this 
period that the Buddhist monasteries began to undertake 
secular as well as religious education, and there may also have 
been a large growth of popular elementary schools. 

The effect of the Muhammadan domination upon these 
Hindu vernacular schools must have been considerable. The 
growth of a large Muhammadan population, who resorted to 
the Muhammadan maktabs for obtaining an elementary educa- 
tion, must have lessened their numbers, and the use of 
Persian as the official language by the Muhammadan rulers 
made even Hindus resort to Muhammadan teachers in order 
to obtain a knowledge of this language, and w’ith it the 
possibility of obtaining Government employment. These 
Persian elementary schools must then have become numerous 
during the Muhammadan period, and the reference in the 
Ain-i-Akbari quoted above 1 shows that they were widespread 
at the time of Akbar. This extract does not refer to Hindu 
vernacular schools, although it mentions the Hindu Sanskrit 
education. But such schools, no doubt, continued, and would 
be used by the Hindu trading and agricultural classes. The 
school w r hich Pietra della Valle saw- 2 in South India in 1623, 
being held in a temple porch, was evidently a Hindu vernacular 
school. Adam in his report mentions 3 that one of the text- 
books used in the Hindu vernacular schools was Subhankar’s 

1 P. 124. 2 See p. 151. 

3 Adam's Reports, p. 97. 


rhyming arithmetic rules, which he says was evidently com- 
posed during the existence of the Muhammadan power, as it 
was full of Persian terms and reference to Muhammadan 
usages. This shows how even the Hindu vernacular schools 
had to accommodate themselves to some extent to the altered 
circumstances which were brought about by the Muhammadan 

When the Education Commission of 1882 was conducting 
its investigations the witnesses were asked whether in their 
respective districts there existed an indigenous system of 
primary schools, and if so whether they were relics of an 
ancient village system. The replies given by witnesses in all 
provinces of India show great diversity of opinion. Some wit- 
nesses confidently affirmed that the primary schools were relics 
of an ancient village system, while others as confidently denied 
it. The evidence on which these opinions were based was not 
asked for, and very few of the witnesses attempted to support 
their opinions by any form of proof. The diversity of opinion 
can, however, be explained by the ambiguity of the question. 
The antiquity of this popular system, and its being a relic of 
an ancient village system, are really two distinct questions, 
and even the matter of antiquity largely depends on whether 
the system as a whole or separate schools are considered. 
The evidence seems to show that these schools were started 
in various places under various circumstances. There seems 
no reason to doubt, as we have already seen, that facilities for 
primary education existed in some places and among some 
classes even before the time of King ASoka, but new schools 
were often springing up where they had not existed before, 
and sometimes a school might become defunct. The Muham- 
madan maktabs were in most cases closely connected with the 
mosque, but with regard to the Hindu vernacular schools it 
seems possible to trace at least four ways in which they came 
to be started. 


162 popular elementary education 

(1) Some were connected with temples. The Bengal 
Report of the Education Commission of 1882 says 1 : ‘ Another 
class of educational institutions owed its origin to a different 
branch of the priesthood. Each village community of the 
Hindus had its tutelary idol with a Brahman specially attached 
to its worship. Offering worship to the idol on behalf of all 
the different castes of the village people, this Brahman natu- 
rally took under him in his tutorial capacity the children of 
all those who, as either belonging to or connected with the 
twice-born, felt themselves under the obligation to acquire 
letters. Thus originated the village pdihsalas which are still 
so much cherished by the people. The pathsala teacher 
subsisted on the deottar land of the idol, and received from his 
pupils free-will offerings and occasionally fees.’ So in the 
Panjab report also it is mentioned that some schools were 
connected with temples, and the school seen by Pietra della 
Valle was probably a temple school. That this, however, was 
not the only origin of such schools, even in the case of Bengal, 
is clear from Adam’s reports. The schools were not always 
held in proximity to a temple, and both teachers and pupils 
included even the lowest castes. 

(2) Other primary schools owed their origin to the enter- 
prise of some village zamlndar or local magnate, who was 
anxious to have his own children taught, and was not unwilling 
to allow other children from the village to study under the 
same teacher along with his own children, and in some cases 
to allow the school to meet on the verandah of his house or 
in some other building that belonged to him. 

(3) In other cases the school was started as a commercial 
venture by some enterprising person, who might be of any 
caste, in some place where he could secure sufficient pupils to 
make it worth his while to do so. This would be specially 
the case in the towns where trade and commerce would compel 

1 Bengal Report, p. I. 


many persons of all castes to desire a knowledge of the three 

(4) Sometimes, as in the case of the Mahajani schools, 1 a y 
number of local traders would employ a teacher to teach their 
sons writing and accounts, so as to prepare them to follow 
their own calling. It is not unlikely that the earliest primary 
schools came into being in this way. 

It does not then seem possible to speak of these indigenous 
primary schools, taken as a whole, as being the relic of an 
ancient village system. If they had been so we should expect 
to find that the teacher was in the same position as others in 
the village, like the carpenter, blacksmith, barber, village 
priest, and others, who receive fixed customary grants from 
the agricultural community of the village in return for the 
performances of their services, and pass on their rights from 
father to son. Not only did the manner of paying the teacher 
differ, generally at least, from the way that men of other 
professions and trades in the village received their remunera- 
tion, but the teachers were not confined to one caste, and 
there is little trace of their office being hereditary. In the 
case of a Brahman teacher his position in the village com- 
munity was no doubt due to his priestly office, and the ancient 
method of rewarding his services was continued even when he 
undertook vernacular teaching. But in the case of teachers of 
other castes, if in some cases they have established a similar 
position in a village community, it is hardly sufficient evidence 
in itself of the antiquity of the system. Apart from the 
Brahmans there has never been a caste of teachers in India, 
and the teaching work of the Brahmans was originally in 
connection with the Vedas and the higher Sanskrit learning 
given only to the three * twice-born ’ castes rather than the 
imparting of primary education to all comers. It seems 
likely that the village primary school was an institution of 
1 For the Mahajani schools, see p. 73. 

164 popular elementary education 

much later growth than other parts of the Indian village 
system. 1 

The character of these popular primary schools must have 
varied greatly in different places, and depended largely upon 
the efficiency and ability of the teacher. But as a whole they 
must have been very deficient, judged by modern European 
standards. They were intensely narrow in their outlook and 
had a strictly utilitarian aim. They had no idea of developing 
the higher mental life of their pupils or cultivating their 
aesthetic tastes. Any thought of helping the pupil to improve 
his character or realize the best that was in him was at most 
only a very secondary aim. The purpose was merely to 
enable the pupil to acquire sufficient mastery of reading, 
writing, and arithmetic, and a few applications of these, such 
as the composition of letters and business documents or the 
keeping of simple accounts, as would enable him to perform 
successfully the business of life. Subjects rather than pupils 
were taught. Memorizing of rules and tables was given a 
very prominent place. Even where, as in the Persian schools, 
some literature was included in the curriculum, there was no 
real cultivation of literary taste. 

Moral and religious instruction was not apparently given 
very much place. The Muhammadan maktabs taught the 
Koran, but it seems to have been often little more than the 
memorizing of those passages necessary for the performance of 
Muhammadan devotions. The Hindu vernacular elementary 
schools were unconnected with the ancient system of Brah- 
manic education. The Saraswatl Bandana, or salutation to 
the goddess of learning, was learnt by heart in some of these 
schools, and repeated by the whole school each day, and 
where the teacher was a temple priest, or other Brahman, he 
may have given to his pupils incidentally a certain amount of 

1 For a different view, see Village Government in British India , by 
Mr. John Matthai, ch. ii. 


instruction in the mythology and sacred lore of the Hindus, 
but beyond this there does not seem to have been much 
attention paid to the moral and religious side of education. 

The discipline, as a rule, was not satisfactory, and the 
position of the teacher as dependent almost entirely on the 
fees or gifts he received from parents, or the good will of a 
zamindar or other patron, was such that he was almost bound 
to become subservient and lacking in independence. Indian 
boys are often more passive than their Western cousins, but by 
no means without the desire of playing mischief when oppor- 
tunity arises. In his Introduction to Adam’s Reports , the Rev. 
J. Long quotes 1 from the Calcutta Review an account of some 
of the tricks played on teachers by Indian boys. Among 
them are the following. In preparing the teacher’s hookah 
boys mix the tobacco with chillies and other pungent ingre- 
dients, so that when he smokes he is made to cough violently, 
while the whole school is convulsed with laughter. Or beneath 
the mat on which he sits may be strewn thorns and sharp 
prickles, which soon display their effect in the contortions of 
the crest-fallen and discomfited master. Some of the forms of 
punishment mentioned in the same number of the Calcutta 
Revinv as formerly common in Indian schools strike one as 
particularly brutal. The following are examples. A boy was 
made to bend forward with his face to the ground ; a heavy 
stick was then placed on his back and another on his neck ; 
and should he let either of them fall, within the prescribed 
period of half an hour or so, he was punished with the cane. 
A boy was made to hang for a few minutes with his head 
downwards from the branch of a neighbouring tree. A boy 
was put in a sack along with some nettles, or a cat, or some 
other noisome creature, and then rolled along the ground. A 
boy was made to measure so many cubits on the ground, by 
marking it along with the tip of his nose. It must be hoped 
1 Introd. to Adam’s Reports , pp. 10 flf. 


that such punishments were used only on rare occasions with 
the most recalcitrant offenders, or that the very possibility of 
their being inflicted was sufficient to preserve discipline. 

In spite, however, of many deficiencies and weaknesses, 
there were many good points about these schools which must 
not be overlooked. Individual rather than class teaching was 
^ the rule, and each pupil was free to develop at his own speed 
according to his own intellectual power. In small schools, 
such as they were, with pupils of varying age, this must have 
been a distinct advantage. The employment of monitors to 
help the master must have been a most valuable means not 
only of helping him in his work, but of giving the more 
promising pupils a training in responsibility and also an 
opportunity for testing and practising the skill they themselves 
had acquired. The teachers, if somewhat narrow in their 
intellectual capacity, and dependent upon the good will of 
those who employed them, seem to have been nevertheless 
hardworking and conscientious, and although their aim was 
not very wide, it seems to have been accomplished. The 
schools were closely connected with life outside the school, 
and teaching for the most part only that ‘ useful knowledge ’ 
which is so highly regarded by the * man in the street,’ they 
had no temptation to develop theories of formal discipline. 
If some of the methods employed in teaching were antiquated 
and unsatisfactory judged by modern standards, others were 
fully in accordance with modern theory. In the Montessori 
system we find it advocated that writing should be taught 
before reading, and that in teaching to write the child should 
first be made constantly to run his fingers over grooved or 
sandpaper letters in order to fix the forms in the muscular 
memory. Both these ideas were long ago current in Indian 
schools. We have already had occasion to refer to this in 
connection with the extract from the Ain-i-Akbari 1 ; and in 
1 See p. 125. 


the description of some of those primary schools in the early 
part of this chapter it has been shown how a boy is taught to 
learn his letters by writing them with a small stick on sand, 
and not by pronouncing them, and how he learns to write by 
tracing over the letters already made by the master with an 
iron style. It must be remembered also that these schools, 
though they might receive help from a local patron, had no 
public grants for their support. With only the shade of a tree, 
or a verandah, for schoolroom, with hardly any manuscripts, 
and practically no school apparatus except a few plantain or 
palm leaves or a little paper and a few styles for writing, with 
a mere pittance for their support, and with a meagre intel- 
lectual training, it must be admitted that the results achieved 
by the teachers of these primary schools were not altogether 
unworthy, and they helped through long centuries to give to 
India some elements of a popular education, and to prepare for 
that time when it should be possible for education to become 
more widespread among the people. 

Although the Hindu primary vernacular schools were 
unconnected with the Brahmanic schools of higher learning, 
they probably derived many of their ideas of teaching as well 
as their methods from those schools; but as the Brahmanic 
learning tended more and more to be separated from the 
ordinary concerns of life, they supplied a popular want which 
would not otherwise have been met. And if they did not 
concern themselves very much with the teaching of religion, it 
must be remembered that there has always been in India a 
wide diffusion of moral truths and religious ideas by means 
of the allegories and fables (like those of the Panchatantra and 
the Hitopadeba), and the epic poems ( Rd may an a , etc.), which 
are handed down from generation to generation by means of 
the family and the social intercourse of the people as they 
gather in the evening, after the day’s work is done, for gossip 
and song and story. 


The introduction of education on modern lines has had a far- 
reaching effect on this popular indigenous system of elementary 
education. Different policies were adopted in different provinces 
with regard to it. In some provinces these schools were 
slowly replaced by new schools instituted by Government, or at 
least under Government inspection. In other provinces they 
were reformed and absorbed into the modern system. One 
still hears, even nowadays, of a school being started, as a 
pecuniary venture by an enterprising teacher, or by a zamindar 
or other local magnate for his own children and others ; but 
such schools can seldom survive for long without the aid of a 
Government grant, which means that they become absorbed 
in the general Government system of education. Still, even in 
the schools most closely under Government inspection and 
control, many of the features of the old indigenous schools, 
both good and bad, can still be traced. 



In the previous chapters some account has been given of 
the various systems of education which have been in vogue 
in India in bygone ages. Many traces and relics of these 
ancient systems are still indeed to be found in India, and 
some parts of them at least are still in full working order. 
But the progress and spread of education on Western lines 
has curtailed their activity to a very large extent, and tends 
more and more to limit the spheres within which they are 
operative. Few countries, and certainly no Western ones, 
have had systems of education which have had such a long 
and continuous history with so few modifications as some of 
the educational systems of India. The long centuries through 
which they have held sway show that they must have pos- 
sessed elements which were of value, and that they were not 
unsuited to the needs of those who developed and adopted 
them. They produced many great men and earnest seekers 
after truth, and their output on the intellectual side is by no 
means inconsiderable. They developed many noble edu- 
cational ideals, which are a valuable contribution to educa- 
tional thought and practice. But the early vigour, which 
showed itself in the great contributions which India made 
to the science of grammar and mathematics and philosophy 
and other subjects, had long since spent itself when that 
momentous change began, which was brought about by the in- 
troduction of Western education and learning. The Brahmanic 



educational system had become stereotyped and formal 
and unable to meet the needs of a progressive civilization. 
We have then to seek for the causes of its decay and failure 
and the reasons why it was unsuitable for present-day con- 
ditions in India* But we must also seek to understand what 
elements of permanent value it possessed and what contri- 
butions it has to make to the educational thought of the 
world in general and India in particular. In considering 
these questions we shall be most concerned with the 
Brahmanic system and the education of special classes of the 
Hindu community which were more or less connected with 
it, as this is the oldest system, and also that which has had 
most effect upon India as a whole. Buddhist education was 
an offshoot from the Brahmanic education, and very closely 
connected with it in ideals and practice ; while the Muham- 
madan education was a foreign system which was transplanted 
to India, and grew up in its new soil with very little connection 
with, or influence upon, the Brahmanic system, and was, with 
a few exceptions, open only to that minority of the population 
which embraced the Muhammadan faith. 

If education is described as a preparation for life, or for 
complete living, we may say that the ancient Indian educators 
would fully have accepted this doctrine. But it would have 
included preparation not only for this life, but also for a 
future existence. The harmonizing of these two purposes in 
due proportions has always been a difficult task for educators. 
If it could be perfectly accomplished many of the problems 
of education would be solved. But in practice there has 
always been oscillation. Thus in the Middle Ages in Europe 
stress was laid upon preparation for the world to come, while 
modern European systems often tend unduly to ignore this 
side of education. India has had the same problem to face, 
and has had similar difficulties in meeting it. The young 
Brahman was being prepared by the education he received 


i7 1 

for his practical duties in life as a priest and teacher of 
others, but the need of preparing himself for the life after 
death was also included in the teaching he received. The 
same may be said of the young Kshatriyas and Vaisyas who 
were required not only to fit themselves for their practical 
work in life, but also to study the Vedas, and give heed to 
the teaching of religion. 

Owing, however, to the current philosophy which taught 
the unreality of this world of time, and that the highest 
wisdom was to seek release from the worldly fetters which held 
the soul in bondage, and that the highest knowledge was to 
become acquainted with the method by which release could 
be obtained, there was a tendency to despise the practical 
duties of life and the preparation for them. The idea of the 
four stages, or asramas, seems to have been formulated to 
try and check this tendency by inculcating the desirability 
of a student passing to the state of a householder before he 
became a forest hermit or wandering ascetic ; but many passed 
straight from the student life to the life of complete renun- 
ciation of the world, and the Upanishads show us how there 
was a tendency amongst the more earnest to despise the 
ordinary learning of the schools and preparation for this life 
in comparison with the higher philosophic knowledge which 
was concerned with the life beyond. This was not confined 
to the Brahmans, but Kshatriyas and others also were affected 
by this movement, and the two religions of Jainism and 
Buddhism were founded by Kshatriyas. Buddhism also, in 
encouraging the life of meditation and the joining of an order of 
monks, was, like Brahmanic philosophy, setting forth an ideal 
of life which despised, or regarded as unreal, this fleeting world 
of time, and hence made that education which was a preparation 
for the practical duties of life, something on a lower plane than 
that which was a preparation for the other world. 

The underlying conception of all this philosophic thought 



which had such a profound influence upon Indian education 
was the doctrine of transmigration of souls and of karma. 
According to this doctrine the result of all actions, good or 
bad, has to be reaped in this life or in a life to come, and 
our present life is governed by our actions in a previous life. 
So long as there are actions the fruits of which have to be 
reaped, a man is condemned to be born and reborn in 
different forms of life, ascending or descending in the scale, 
and this weary round of existence goes on unceasingly unless 
a man can in some way obtain release and cut the chain of 
transmigration. This doctrine, in slightly different forms, is 
held by all the recognized philosophical schools of Hinduism, 
as well as by Buddhism and Jainism, and the main purpose 
of their philosophy was to discover the true way by which 
deliverance might be accomplished. In some phases of 
Indian philosophy the World is regarded as an illusion, or 
Maya, and the only real existence is an impersonal Unknown, 
or Brahman. We are not here concerned with the truth or 
otherwise of these philosophic conceptions, nor with the 
various ways which were set forth for the obtaining of sal- 
vation, but it must be observed that their influence upon the 
intellectual life of India was such as to turn intellectual 
effort almost entirely in one direction, and other studies 
were regarded as chiefly of value in preparation for, and 
as leading up to, these higher truths. There was thus a 
cramping of thought, and although there were not wanting 
those who gave their attention to other branches of learning, 
many of the most earnest and brilliant of Indian scholars 
spent their life in speculating upon these philosophic con- 
ceptions. The spirit of other-worldliness which thus gained 
a hold upon the Brahmanic schools made them more and 
more out of touch with the ordinary life of the world, and 
helped to make them unfit to mould the Indian peoples in the 
paths of progress and general culture. 



It is obvious, however, that if all were to forsake the 
world for a hermit or monastic life the bonds of society 
would soon be broken, and the work of the world come to a 
stop. It was to meet this difficulty, as we have seen, that it 
was prescribed that the general practice should be for a 
student to become a householder before entering upon the 
ascetic life ; but there was also another doctrine formulated, 
which gave comfort to those who felt themselves unable to 
forsake the world, by admitting that if a man performed well 
the duties of the station in which he was born he might 
progress spiritually on condition that he kept himself from 
attachment to the things of the world. Thus in the Bhagavad 
Gtta, when the young Kshatriya warrior Arjuna is about to go 
into battle and feels some qualms with regard to engaging in 
a strife against relatives, Krishna, who has appeared to him in 
the form of a charioteer, encourages him to do his duty. He 
urges upon him the doctrine that in performing all social and 
religious duties of his caste in a spirit of indifference, and 
without the least regard for the direct or indirect results which 
may accrue from them, he may be freed from the necessity 
of reaping the fruit which would otherwise attach to them, 
and progress towards union with the Supreme. 

‘ In works be thine office ; in their fruits must it never 
be. Be not moved by the fruits of works; but let not 
attachment to worklessness dwell in thee .’ 1 

‘The man who casts off all desires and walks without 
desire, with no thought of a Mine or of an I, comes into 
peace.’ 2 

Whatever may have been the truth or falsehood of the 
underlying philosophy of this doctrine, it was not one that 
would tend towards intellectual or educational progress. 

The very idea, moreover, of each man being born to 
perform certain functions in life according to his caste tended 
1 Bhagavad Gita , ii. 47 (Dr. Barnett’s trans.). 1 Ibid., ii. 71. 



to a narrowing of the purpose of education, and to its being 
regarded as chiefly concerned with preparing a boy to fulfil 
the duties of his particular occupation in life. Thus while, 
on the one hand, the underlying philosophic thought tended 
towards a spirit of other-worldliness and to education being 
conceived as a preparation for what lay beyond this life, on 
the other hand it tended towards a narrow vocationalism, and 
those especially who were shut out from the study of the 
Vedas and the higher philosophical thought received little 
direct religious education, and their training was confined to 
the acquisition of those subjects or mechanical arts which 
they needed for their caste occupation. Thus for the mass 
of the people education came to be regarded from a narrowly 
utilitarian point of view, and when the popular elementary 
schools grew up to provide for the need of simple instruction 
for the commercial and agricultural classes, they also, like 
the caste training, were largely utilitarian in their outlook. 
Even the Brahmanic schools often tended to become utili- 
tarian, and those who attended them were often aiming at 
gaining just that knowledge which would enable them to earn 
their livelihood, either in connection with the performance of 
religious rites for the people, or in the service of the State. 
It is not, of course, to be understood that there was no 
religious basis for the education of those who were not 
aiming at the life of absolute renunciation of the world. 
Far from it. The deeply religious nature of the Indian peoples 
has led them to surround all actions of life with religious asso- 
ciations, and even those who were shut out from the study of 
the Vedas had their religious rites. These indeed often were 
connected with the grossest idolatry and superstition, which 
became, however, parts of the Hindu system, and the very 
fact that the highest ideals were possible only for the few 
gave these lower forms of religion a greater opportunity to 
spread amongst the people. 



The doctrine of transmigration and karma on the one 
hand may have tended to set before men a high moral 
standard by making them feel the importance of all actions, 
as the fruit of these had to be reaped at some time or other ; 
but in its more extreme form the doctrine taught that even 
good actions, as well as bad, were to be avoided, for the 
fruit of these also would have to be reaped, and so the cycle 
of births would have to be prolonged. Thus India came under 
the sway of a philosophy of pessimism which allowed little 
place in the universe for the action of Providence, or the 
working of moral purpose, and there was little to encourage 
men to progress or hopeful endeavour. In the early Vedic 
times life was more joyous and free, and this was the time 
when great intellectual movements began in India. But 
as the gloomy view of existence came to have more and 
more hold over Indian life and thought the sap of intellectual 
effort dried up and the progress of civilization was arrested. 
Hence the early promise of the ancient Brahmanic education, 
with its many noble ideals and possibilities of development, 
was not fulfilled, and it was led into a more and more narrow 
groove, and was incapable of supplying the needs of a pro- 
gressive and advancing civilization. 

The philosophic conceptions of the doctrine of trans- 
migration also underlay the caste system, which was justified 
and explained on the ground that a man was born into a 
particular caste according to his merits or demerits in a 
previous existence. The caste system indeed was not without 
its good points. It gave stability to society, and established 
guilds which preserved learning and craftsmanship. It was 
a system of mutual responsibility, and the richer members of 
the caste were expected to stand behind the poorer members 
in case of need. But, on the other hand, it discouraged 
originality and enterprise, and promoted stagnation and 
division. There was no possibility for a man to pass from 


one caste to another, and hence on its educational side it 
was the narrowest form of vocational training the world has 
ever seen. There was no incentive for a boy to rise above 
a certain level, and no freedom of intercourse amongst the 
different occupations. In this narrow vocational system 
there was no idea of general culture or of study for the 
sake of study, nor was there the possibility of new avenues 
of learning being opened up. The individual was being 
educated not so much for his own sake as for the sake of 
society, and individualism had very little scope, if any, for 

Brahmanic education, as well as other forms of education 
in India, looked to the past for its ideals rather than to the 
future. Whatever variations or new ideas were permitted 
within Brahmanism, it was always on the two conditions that 
the absolute authority of the Vedas should be recognized, 
and also the supremacy of the Brahman priesthood. And 
so in education also it was the ideals of the past which ever 
governed its development. The duty of the teacher was to 
pass on as nearly as he himself had received it the mass of 
tradition which had been handed down from past ages. As 
this increased in bulk, and specialization became necessary, 
it was still the past to which the student was taught to look 
for guidance, and the ancient standards were regarded as 
authoritative. Thus in grammar, after the great work of 
Panini and Patanjali the science became fixed, and though 
an enormous number of works on grammar have been written 
in India since, it was always recognized that these ancient 
authorities must not be departed from. Education also 
became stereotyped, and the same methods which were fol- 
lowed hundreds of years before the Christian era continued 
with little change down to modern times. 

In criticizing the ancient Indian education one can say 
that it had many of the same defects that the education of 



Europe had before the Revival of Learning, and like that 
education it needed some new breath of life to quicken it 
and transform it. In the case of India that new force has 
come from the West in the introduction of Western learning 
and Western ideas. India is at present passing through a 
period of intellectual, social, political, and religious ferment 
which is in many ways similar to the change through which 
Europe passed during the Renaissance. In no direction has 
the change been more apparent than in education. Schools 
on Western lines started by Government, or missionary 
societies, or Muhammadan or Hindu associations, or other 
bodies, have not only spread all over India, but have been 
welcomed and highly appreciated by the people, and there 
is an increasing demand for even greater facilities. The 
education of girls has indeed been slow in its progress 
compared with that which has been made in the edu- 
cation of boys, and the technical training of the craftsmen 
still proceeds very much on the old lines. Moreover, the 
Brahmanic learning is still being passed on to a few in the 
old traditional way, and the Muhammadan maktabs still give 
instruction to the young Muhammadans in the Koran. But 
more and more the Western education advances, and there 
is a danger lest educational practices and ideals which have 
been found useful in Europe should be regarded as being of 
necessity equally suited to the needs of India. This is not 
always the case, and it may be that as education progresses 
in India many of the ideals which were worked out by ancient 
Indian educators will reassert themselves, and in a modern 
form, and in conjunction with many Western udeals may 
prove of great service to those engaged in the great task of 
educating the rising generation of India. 

One of the most characteristic of Indian educational 
ideals is the relation between pupil and teacher. This 
relationship receives a great deal of attention in the ancient 


i 7 8 


books, both Hindu and Buddhist. Great reverence and 
respect is required from the pupil, while the teacher on his 
part has also high responsibilities. The idea of this relation- 
ship of pupil to teacher has indeed been sometimes so 
developed that it has led to the teacher, or guru , receiving 
divine honours from his pupil, or disciple, in some forms of 
Hinduism, and sects which have sprung from it. In a more 
sober conception of this relationship, it is thought of as that 
of father and son, and so far was this idea carried out that 
the pupil was considered to be in a closer relation to the 
teacher than to his real father. The pupil often resided at the 
house of his teacher, and, even when this was not the case, 
was always in close contact with him. The paternal relation- 
ship of the teacher towards the pupil was emphasized by the 
absence of any regular fee. The teacher, having accepted 
the responsibility of the position, was considered morally 
bound to perform his duty towards the pupil, and moreover 
in the case of the Brahman preceptor, to teach was a duty 
which he owed to society. The pupil, on the other hand 
was carrying out the filial relationship not only in the respect 
he paid to the teacher, but also in attending to the service of 
his household. The ideal is thus a domestic one, and it is 
quite foreign to the Indian system that there should be a 
large institution or a large class of pupils taught together. 
The Indian ideal would seem to be one teacher for each 
pupil, and though on practical grounds this may not often 
have been realized, yet so far as the evidence is available, we 
find, as a rule, quite a small number of pupils taught by each 
teacher. Where there was a centre of learning corresponding 
to a university, this seems to have been a collection of such 
small classes grouped in one place. The same teacher, more- 
over, generally taught the pupil from the beginning to the 
end of the period of learning. In the West it is the insti- 
tution rather than the teacher which is emphasized, and it is 


J 79 

the school or college which a student regards as his alma 
mater. In India it is the teacher rather than the institution 
that is prominent, and the same affection and reverence which 
a Western student has for his alma mater is in India bestowed 
with a life-long devotion upon the teacher. Even the intro- 
duction of Western education with its many teachers, and 
many classes, has not entirely broken down this ideal, in 
spite of the complications which it produces. To an Indian 
student a teacher who only appears at stated hours to teach 
or lecture, and is not accessible at all times to answer questions 
and give advice on all manner of subjects, is an anomaly. 
Such a relationship, no doubt, throws a greatly increased 
responsibility upon the teacher, and where the teacher is not 
worthy of his position may be attended with grave dangers. 
But where the teacher is a man who reaches a high intel- 
lectual, moral, and spiritual standard, there is much to be 
said for the Indian ideal. There is no country in the world 
where the responsibilities and opportunities of the teacher are 
greater than they are in India. 

Closely connected with the family relationship which exists 
between teacher and pupil is the employment of monitors 
to assist the teacher in his instruction. These fulfil the place 
of elder brothers of the family. The monitorial system of 
Bell and Lancaster, which Bell is said to have devised by 
seeing the method used in schools in India, is but a cari- 
cature of the Indian ideal. In English schools the prefectual 
system has associated the elder boys with the masters in the 
government and discipline of the school, and it is generally 
recognized as being one of the most valuable parts of their 
training. According to the Indian idea the more advanced 
scholars are associated with the master in the work of teach- 
ing, and though the system may have been originally devised 
to help the master in solving the problem of teaching several 
pupils at different stages at the same time, it must have been 

1 80 


a valuable training for the monitors themselves. In India 
the bullying of younger boys by older ones is almost unknown, 
and the respect shown by the younger boys towards the older 
boys is very marked. The resuscitation of this ancient Indian 
ideal of monitors would therefore be worth a trial, and it is 
not unlikely that it might show very excellent results if the 
conditions were also fulfilled that the class should be small, and 
that it was composed of pupils all at different stages of progress. 

An ideal of Indian life which has a close bearing on 
education is that which has been happily termed naissance 
obliged The evils of the caste system are indeed manifest, 
and have already been referred to ; but we must not overlook 
the fact that it has also had its useful side, and from the 
educational point of view it has brought about a vast system 
of vocational training which was made possible by the fact 
that a boy’s future career was determined from his very birth, 
for upon his birth depended both his duties and privileges in 
life. Moreover, this vocational training was permeated by 
the idea of the family, and was carried out under conditions 
which brought it into close contact with life. The decay of 
the caste system, with all its attendant evils, seems inevitable 
under the conditions of modern life. But it is to be hoped 
that as it passes some of its nobler phases may be preserved, 
and that the vocational idea of education which it has 
fostered may not be lost. The tendency to extend a uniform 
system and so to reduce all education to the dead level of a 
code-bound type is already at work in India, and the ideal 
of vocational training needs to be made much more promi- 
nent. How to develop a system of vocational education 
which may incorporate the best elements of the old ideals 
with the claims of modern education is no easy problem, but 
it is one which will have eventually to be faced. 

Those who study India from the point of view of its 
1 See Farquhar, Crown of Hinduism , p. 203. 



philosophy alone may get the impression that the people of 
India are a race of impractical dreamers who spend much of 
their time in meditating on lofty abstractions. That philo- 
sophical speculation has been carried to a very high point in 
India is of course true, but the practical side of life has also 
been cultivated, and a great deal of social life has been 
permeated by utilitarianism. In education this is reflected 
in the vocational ideals to which we have referred. But the 
spiritual basis which underlies life is never left out of sight, 
and in the ultimate analysis is regarded as paramount. The 
great difficulty which the people of India have felt has been 
to preserve a unity between the spiritual and the practical 
point of view, and this has often led to impractical other- 
worldliness on the one hand and narrow vocationalism on the 
other. But no view of life would be regarded as adequate 
which did not rest ultimately on a spiritual basis, and hence 
in education it is regarded as essential that a pupil’s life should 
be lived in a religious environment and permeated by religious 
ideals. It is this which creates a very difficult problem for 
a Government which seeks to preserve a strictly neutral 
attitude in religious matters. 

The Brahmanic settlements were probably most frequently 
situated in forests in ancient times. The contact with nature 
and absence of the evils of city life which this involved must have 
been important factors in creating an atmosphere which was 
most helpful in the formation of spiritual ideals. The classic 
poets love to depict the beautiful surroundings of the asramas 
and the simple life of their inhabitants in contact with both 
animate and inanimate nature. Though the- Brahmanic 
education was no doubt also carried on in towns, especially 
in later times, the forest sanctuary has always been the Indian 
ideal. This is another of the ancient educational ideals 
which is most important, and one that is worthy of the atten- 
tion of modern educationists. 



The main purpose of this book has been to trace the 
development of the ancient Indian systems of education, and 
in emphasizing some of the ideals which they have worked 
out no attempt is made to be exhaustive, nor to show all the 
bearings which the ancient ideals have on present conditions. 
This would need a book to itself. There can be no doubt, 
however, that the development of India’s future educational 
ideals will not be governed solely by Western educational 
thought and practice, and in education as in all other phases 
of social life a mingling of East and West is not only inevi- 
table but desirable . 1 Experience alone will determine how 
this can be done with the least possible friction and waste of 
effort. It may not, however, be out of place to indicate what 
seems to the author of this book the plane upon which 
European and Asian thought may best be brought together in 
education as well as in other matters. This is best shown by 
the following quotation 

1 Christianity is the religion which associates East and 
West in a higher range of thought than either can reach 
alone, and tends to substitute a peaceful union for the war 
into which the essential difference of Asiatic and European 
character too often leads the two continents. So profound 
is the difference, that in their meeting either war must result, 
or each of them must modify itself. There is no power 
except religion strong enough to modify both sufficiently to 
make a peaceful union possible ; and there is no religion but 
Christianity which is wholly penetrated both with the European 
and with the Asiatic spirit — so penetrated that many are 
sensitive only to one or the other. ... It is now becoming 
plain to all that the relation of Asia to Europe is in process 

1 Two interesting educational experiments, which are attempts to 
combine some of the ancient educational ideals of India with those which 
have been received from the West, are the Ary a Satnaj Gurukula at 
Hardwar, and Sir Rabindranath Tagore’s Shantiniketan at Bolpur. 



of being profoundly changed ; and very soon this will be 
a matter of general discussion. The long-unquestioned domi- 
nation of European over Asiatic is now being put to the test, 
and is probably coming to an end. What is to be the issue ? 
That depends entirely on the influence of Christianity, and 
on the degree to which it has affected the aims both of 
Christian and of non-Christian nations ; there are cases in 
which it has affected the latter almost more than the former. 
The ignorant European fancies that progress for the East lies 
in Europeanizing it. The ordinary traveller in the East can 
tell that it is as impossible to Europeanize the Asiatic as it is 
to make an Asiatic out of an European, but he has not learned 
that there is a higher plane on which Asia and Europe may 
“ mix and meet . . . The new stage towards which Chris- 
tianity is moving, and in which it will be better understood 
than it has been by purely European thought, will be a syn- 
thesis of European and Asiatic nature and ideas .’ 1 

The future of India lies in its children, and this land, with 
its vast population, presents a wonderful opportunity as well 
as a huge responsibility to its educators. There are, and will 
no doubt always be, many controversies with regard to the 
most desirable development that its educational system shall 
take ; but it is to be hoped that there will arise therefrom a 
system which, while incorporating new and old, will tran- 
scend both in its practice as well as in its ideals. 

1 The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia, Sir W. M. Ramsay, 1904, 
Preface, pp. v. flf. 



A large number of books on Indian history, literature, and 
religions contain occasional references to the ancient systems 
of education, and also supply the necessary background. 
Some of these are mentioned in the footnotes. The following 
books contain some of the more important references. 

For General Outlines of the Ancient Systems. 

Graves, F. P. A History of Education (vol. i.). 

Laurie, S. S. Historical Survey of Pre-Christian Education. 

Monroe, P. Cyclopedia of Education. 

Hastings’ Encyclopedia oj Religion and Ethics. 

For Brahmanic Education. 

Hastings’ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (article on ‘ Airama ’). 
Volumes in the Sacred Books of the East (edited by F. Max Muller). 
Vols. i. and xv. The Upanishads (translated by F. Max Muller). 
Vol. ii. The Sutras of Apastamba and Gautama (translated by 
J. G. Biihler). 

Vol. xiv. The Dharmasutras of Vasishtha and Baudhayana 
(translated by J. G. Biihler). 

Vols. xii., etc. The Satapatha Brahmana (translated byEggeling). 
Vol. xxv. The Law Code of Afanu (translated by J. G. Biihler). 
Muller, F. Max. Lectures on the Origin of Religion. 

,, ,, Sanskrit Literature. 

Macdonell, A. A. Sanskrit Literature. 

Adam, William. Reports on Vernacular Education in Bengal , 1835- 
1838 (edited by Rev. J. Long, 1868). 

Ward, William. A View of the Hindoos. 

Nadia Gazetteer (Bengal District Gazetteers , No. 24), 1916. 

For Education of Special Classes of the Community. 

Kautilya’s Arthaiastra. Translated by R. Shamasastry. 

Coomaraswamy, A. K. The Indian Craftsman. 

Birdwood, Sir Geo. C. M. The Industrial Arts of India. 

The Dharmasutras (as above). 

The Law Code of Manu (as above). 



For Buddhist Education. 

Beal, A. Buddhist Recoras of the Western World (translation of the 
Travels of Hitten Tsiatig). 

Legge, J. Fahien ( A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms). 

Takakusu, I. A Record of the Buddhist Religion ( Travels of I. Tsing). 

Childers, F. Article in Contemp. Rev., Feb., 1876, with translation of 
Sigalowada Sutta. 

Sacred Books of the East, vols. xiii., xvii., xx., Vinaya Texts (trans- 
lated by Rhys Davids, and Oldenberg). 

Satish Chandra Vidyabhusana. History of the Medicevcd School of 
Indian Logic. 

For Muhammadan Education. 

Narendra Nath Law. Promotion of Learning in India during Muham- 
madan Rule. 

Ain-i-Akbari. Translated by H. Blochmann. 

Bernier, F. Travels in the Mogul Empire (translated by A. Con- 
stable) . 

Adam, W., Reports (as above). 

For Primary Education. 

Adam, W. Reports (as above). 

Gover, C. E. Article in Indian Antiquary , Feb., 1873 (ii. 52) on 
‘ Pyal Schools in Madras ’. 

Report of Education Commission of 1882 (with appendices relating to 
different provinces). 

Quinquennial Revietu of Education in India, 1907-1912. 

Satthianadhan, S. History of Education in the Madras Presidency. 

Thomas, F. W. The History and Prospects of British Education in 

Matthai, J. Village Government in British India (ch. ii.). 

Buhler, J. G. Indian Palceography. 



Abul Fazl, 124, 127. 

Accounts, 145 ft'., 164. 

Adam, William, 140, 145, 153 f., 

Adhvaryu, 15 ff. 

Adhyaya, 40. 

Agra, 1 17, 122, 128, 138 f. 
Agriculture, 63 ff., 73, 124. 
Ahmadabad, 76 f. 

Ain-i-Akbari, 124, 160. 

AjataSatru, 58. 

Akbar, 50, 121 ff., 129, 131, 138, 

Algebra, 41, 44. 

Altamsh, 116, 138. 

AmarakoSa, 43. 

Anadhyaya, 38. 

Angas, 38, 42, 44, 47 f., 59. 
Anvikshiki, 63 ft. 

Apastamba, 28 ft'., 35, 60. 

Arabic, 118 f., 121, 123, 131 ff, 
_ 138, 140, 152 f. 

Aranyakas, 21, 37 f. 

Archika, 16. 

Arithmetic, 64, 73, m, 115, 124, 
139 f., 144 ff, 156 ff, 164. 
ArthaSastra, 60, 62 ff, 76, 84. 
Arthavada, 17. 

Aryabhata, 43. 

Aryan Race, II, 17, 18, 81. 
Ashtadhyayi, 43. 

ASoka, 78, 93, 95, 108, 158 f., 161. 
ASrama, 25 ff, 35, 59, 171, 181. 
Astronomy, 18, 24, 38, 42 f., 45, 
S3 f., 102, 125, 140. 
Atharvaveda, 16 ff, 19, 24, 30, 69. 
Atman, 21, 26. 

Aurangzlb, 130 ff. 

Ayur Vedic medicine, 45. 


Babar, 120 f., 129, 139. 

Badari, 49. 

Badaun, 117. 

Badauni, 123. 

Bahadur Shah, 137. 

Bahmani Kingdom, Ii8f. 
Bakhtiyar, 107, 1 15. 

Balban, 1 16. 

Baudhayana, 28 ff, 45, 47 f., 60. 
Bell, Dr. Andrew, 147, 179. 
Benares, 49, 51, 130. 

Bengal, 119, 145, 147, 154, 162. 
Bengali, 153. 

Bentinck, Lord William, 6, 145. 
Bernier, 78, 128, 132 ft., 139. 
Bhagavad Gita, 159, 173. 
Bharadvaja, 20. 

Bhartrihari, 100 f., 104 f. 
Bhaskaracharya, 43. 

Bhikkunis, 112. 

Bhikkhus, 88 ff, 103. 

Bldar, 119, 121. 

BTjapur, 1 19. 

Bodhisattva, 94. 

Bohras, 131. 

Bombay, 145, 148, 154. 
Brahmacharl, 19 ff, 25, 39, 56, 103. 
Brahman, 23, 81, 172. 

Brahmanas, 17, 19 ff, 37 (., 45, 58. 
Brahmans, 11 ff, 18 ff, 27 ff, 33, 

37 {., 46 ff, 58 *•> 68 {., 88, 

104, 1 14, 144, 145 f., 148, 152, 
155, 162 f., 170, 181. 
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 24, 46. 
Buddhism, 45, 87 ft'., 171 f. 

Burma, 107, in f., 159. 


Calcutta, 54. 

Calcutta Review , 165. 

Caste, 12, 18, 74 ff, 87, 173, 175 f., 

Catrou, 123, 132. 

Ceylon, 109, 112. 

Charaka, 45. 

Charana, 17. 



Chhandas, 24, 42. 

Chhandogya Upanishad, 26. 

Chinese scholars, 93 ff. 

Chitra Gangyayani, 58. 

Chivalry, 70 f. 

Cowell, Professor, 53. 

Craftsmen, 57, 74 ff., 113, 1 17, 177. 
Curriculum — 

Brahman, 23 f., 40 ff., 51, 55. 
Buddhist, 98 ff., nof., 113. 

K shatriya, 60 ff. 

Muhammadan, 119, 124 ff., 132 ff, 
139 ff- 

Primary, 146 ff., 164. 

VaiSya, 72 ff 


Dandaniti, 63 ff. 

Dara Shukoh, 128. 

DaSagranthas, 38. 

Delhi, 79, usff, 122, 128, 137, 139. 
Devadasis, 83 f. 

Dhanur Veda, 70. 

Dharma, 27 ff, 158. 

Drawing, 79. 

Drona, 61. 

Dubois, 78, 84. 

Dvija, 27. 

Dwaraka, 49. 


Education Commission of 1882... 
148, 161 f. 

Etymology, 18, 24, 38. 


Fa-Hien, 95 ff. 

Fathpur Sikri, 122, 138. 

Ferishta, 117. 

FIruzabad, 117. 

Fosse, Mr. de la, 55, 140. 


Gautama, 28 ff , 35 f., 46, 48. 
Gayatri, 56. 

Geometry, 41, 124. 

Golkonda, 119. 

Grammar, 18, 24, 38, 42 ff, 53 ff., 
98 ff, 134, 136, 140, 152, 169, 

Greek influence, 44. 

Grihastha, 26, 35. 

Grihya Sutras, 38. 

Guilds, 75 ff. 

Gul-Badan Begam, 138. 

Guru, 23, 25, 50. 


Harsha, King, 70. 

Hinayana, 95 f. 

Hindi, 55, 83. 

History, 119, 125, 133, 136, 141. 
Hitopadefci, 41, 65, 68, 167. 
Hiuen Tsiang, 95 ff 
Hotri, 14 ff. 

Humayun, 121, 131. 


Ibadat, Khana, 122. 

Ibrahitn Sharki, 119. 

Initiation, 19, 27, 56, 59, 89, 150. 
Itihasa, 24, 65. 

I-Tsing, 93 ff. 


Jahanara Begam, 138. 
Jahangir, 128, 130. 
Janaka, 58. 

Jataka, 99, 101, in. 
Jaunpur, 119, 139. 
Jyotisha, 42. 


Kalpa, 24, 42, 60. 
Kanishka, 45, 102. 

Karma, 21, 87, 172, 175. 
Katha-sarit-sagara, 66, 68. 

Katyayana, 43. 

Kautilya, 62 ff 
Kayasths, 145 f., 152. 

Khalji dynasty, 116. 

Khandesh, 1 19. 

Kharg bandai, 71. 

King, 18, 60 ff 

Koran, 115, 117, 120, 131, 139 f. 
153, 164, 177. 

Kshatriyas, 18, 26, 29 f., 56, 58 ff. 
145, 171. 

Kutb-ud-din, 115. 




Law, 18, 42, 45, 52 ff., 102, 140 f. 
Legge, Prof. J., 108. 

Lexicography, 43, 98. 

Libraries, 55, 121, 131, 137. 

Logic, 24, 42, 52 ff., 60, 98 ff., 1 13, 
125, 140. 


Macaulay, 6. 

Madras, 145, 149, 154. 

Madrasah, 115 ff., 145, 152. 
Mahabbarata, 18, 61, 68, 85. 
Mahabhashya, 43, 100. 

Mahajani schools, 73 f., 163. 
Maham Anaga, 122, 138. 

Mahayana, 94 ff., 106. 

Mahmud of Ghazni, 1 14. 

Maktab, 80, 115 ff., 145, 152, 160, 
161, 164, 177. 

Maktab Ceremony, 131 f. 

Malwa, 1 19, 138. 

Manu, 28, 34 f., 41, 45, 47 f., 56, 
63, 66, 68, 72, 81, 1 12, 154 f. 
Manucci, 123. 

Mathas, 49 f. 

Mathematics, 43 f., 102, 169. 

Maya, 172. 

Medicine, 42, 45, 98, IOI f., 113, 
125, 141, 153. 

Megasthenes, 31. 

Metaphysics, 99 ff, 140. 

Method, 17, 36 ff., 54, 78 ff, 98 ff., 
124 ff., 146 ff., 166. 

Military skill, 60 ff., 132, 135. 
Mimamsa, 46 ff. 

Monasteries (see also Mathas, 
Sangharamas, and Viharas), 
105 ff., in ff, 157 ff. 

Monitors, 41, 147, 166, 179 ff 
Muhammad Ghori, 115. 

Mulla Shah, 132 ff. 

Muller, F. Max, 21, 38 ff, 43, 46. 
Multan, 1 19. 

Mumtaz Mahal, 138. 

Music, 101, 122, 140. 


Nachiketas, 41. 

Nadia, 49, 51 ff. 

Nalanda, 51 ff., 95 ff., 10 ? 

\ Narada, 23. 
j Naslr-ud-dln, 116. 

Nirukta, 42, 47 ff 
Nitisara, 67. 

Nlti&istra, 60, 67. 

Nur Jahan, 138. 

| Nyaya, 46, 54. 


Om, 36, 40. 

Otantapuri, 105 ff 
Outcastes, 32, 145 ff 


Pabbaja ordination, 89. 

Padapatha, 17. 

Palaka/150, 157. 

Pali, 95. 

Panchatantra, 41, 65. 

Panini, 37, 42 ff, 49, 98 ff, 176. 
Pansal, no. 

ParaSara, 47. 

Parishad, 46 ff. 

Pataliputra, 43, 95, 102. 

Patanjali, 43, 125, 176. 

PathSalas, 145, 162. 

Patimokkha, 89. 

Patna. See Pataliputra. 

Persian, 118 ff,' 121 ff, 125 ff, 128, 
131 ff, 138 ff, 142, 152 ff, 160. 
Philology, 42. 

Philosophy, 18, 20, 45, 54, 63, 87, 
98, 100, 1 19, 134 f 169, 

171 ff., 181. 

Phonetics, 43. 

Pietra della Valle, 151, 160, 162. 
Poetry, 53 ff, 119, 152. 

Politics, 60 ff. 

Prajapati, 19. 

Pra^na, 40. 

PratiSakhya, 39 ff 
Prostitutes, 84. 

Punishments, 35, 64, 148, 165 ff 
Pupils : 

Age of, 22, 28 ff, S3 ff, 89, hi, 

Brahman, 19, 22 ff, 52 ff. 
Buddhist, 89 ff 
Clothing of, 29 ff 
Collecting alms, 19, 32, 91. 



Pupils ( continued) : 

Discipline of, 24, 30 fif., 64, 91 ff., 
148 fif., 165. 

Food of, 32, 91. 

Hours of study, 65, 148. 
Initiation of, 19, 27 fif., 56, 59, 
89, 150. 

Length of course, 20, 23, 30 ft., 
38, 64, 93. 

Muhammadan, 122, 124 ft. 
Number of, 52 fif., 139, 145. 
Primary, 145 fif. 

Purana, 24, 54, 65. 

Puri, 49. 

Purohita, 12, 59, 66 f. 

Pyal schools, 149 f. 


Quinquennial Review , 55, 140, 143. 


Rajasthan, 68, 70 f. 

Rajputs, 71. 

Rama, 61, 71. 

Ramayana, 18, 61, 68, 7 1, 76, 147, 

Raziya, 116, 138. 

Reading, 79, 1 10, 115, 125, 139, 
144 ff., 164. 

Religious education, 33 f., 50, 80, 
109, 132, 164, 167, 174, 181. 
Rigveda, 12 ff., 20, 23, 24, 38 f., 
47, 58, 60, 75, 81. 

Royal education, 60 ff., 132 ff. 


Saddhiviharika, 90 ff. 
fsakha, 17, 37 f. 

Samanera, 90, 108. 

Samans, 15. 

6amans, 95. 

Samavartana, 35. 

Samaveda, 15 ff, 24. 

Samskaras, 28. 

Sanatkumara, 23. 

Sandhi, 39. 

Sangha, 88 ff., 108, 157. 
Sangharamas, 96, 1 13. 
Sankaracharya, 49. 

Sankhya, 46, 63. 

Sannyasi, 26, 35. 

Sanskrit, 37 f., 43, 50 f., 55, 66, 
79) 83, 95, 99 ff, 109 f., 122 f., 
125 f., 128, 152. 

Satapatha Brahmana, 18 f. 
Satiunnisa, 138. 

Satyakama, 22. 

Savitrl, 20, 36. 

Shah Jahan, 119, 128, 130, 134. 
Sher Shah, 1 19, 121. 

Sialkot, 1 31. 

Sikandar Lodi, 1 1 7 ff. 

Siksha, 24, 42. 

' Sita, 85 f. 

Smith, Mr. V. A., 15S. 

Snataka, 35. 

Soma, 12 f., 15 ff. 

Specialization, 44 f., 48. 

Sringeri, 49 f. 
j Students. See Pupils. 

Sudras, 18, 57, 148. 

Susruta, 45. 

Sutras, 24, 27 ff, 37, 40, 42 f., 45, 
. 48, 59 f-» 72 , 87, 95, 98, 154. 

Svetaketu, 22 ft. 


Taimur, 1 1 7. 

Taittirlya Brahmana, 20, 
TakshaSila, 49. 

Tamil, 150. 

Tamralipti, 95 f. • 

Tantrakhyayika, 68. 

Tantric philosophy, 52, 105 f. 
Tapas, 26. 

Teacher : 

Brahman, 13, 19, 22 ft., 30 ft., 
52 ff. 

Buddhist, 90 ff. 

Fees of, 25, 35, 52 ft., 145, 150, 
152, 162 f. 

Introduction to, 19, 23, 90. 
Muhammadan, 132, 152. 

Primary, 145 ff 
Rules for, 34, 92 f. 

Service of, 19, 24, 32, 90 ff. 
Worshipped, 50,69, 177. 

Telugu, 150. 

Text-books, 42 f n 67 f., 98 ff., 146, 

Tiladaka, 96. 



Tod, 70 f. 

Todar Mai, 122. 

Tols, 51 ff., 145. 

Transmigration, 21, 87, 172, 17s. 
Tripitaka, 93, 97. 

1 ughlak dynasty, 1 16. 

Turkish, 121, 131. 


Udgatri, 15 ff. 

Universities, 49, 51 ff, 105 ff, 119, 
139 . 178 . 

U pajjhaya, 90 ff. 

Upali, 156. 

Upanayana, 19, 28. 

Upanishads, 21 ff., 32, 37, 41, 45, 
58 f., 81, 128, 1 71 . 
Upasampada ordination, 8g, 157. 
Urdu, 1 18, 122, 152. 


Vaidiks, 44. 

Vaidyas, 45, 145. 

Vaiseshika, 46. 

Vaidyas, 18, 26, 29 f., 56, 58 ff, 
72 f., 155, 171. 

Vanaprasthas, 21, 25 f., 35. 

Varta, 63 ff. 

Varttikas, 43. 

Vasishtha, 28 ff, 45, 47 f., 60. 

Vedangas, 42, 48. 

Vedanta, 21, 34, 46, 50, 87. 

Vedic schools, 13 ff, 26, 44, 58, 72. 
Vidhi, 17. 

Vidyabhusana, Dr. S. C., 10s 
Viharas, 88 ff 

Vikrama&la, 105 ff, 115. 

Village community, 74 f., 161 ff. 
Vinaya, 88, 93, 97, 100 f. 
Vocational training, 57, 60 ff, 
_ 74 ff-, 136, 174, 180 f. 
Vyakarana, 42. 


Ward, William, 53 70, 83, 147, 

f 53 f- 

Warriors, 60 ff. 

Women’s education, 80 ff, 1 1 2 f., 
137 U 153 , 177 - 

Writing, 17, 37 f., 41, 5s, 73) 79 , 
IIO, 115, I24 f., 139 144 ff., 

155 ff, 163 f., 166 f. 

Yajurveda, 16, 23 f., 47. 
Yoga, 46, 63, 87. 


Zibunnisa Begam, 138. 



Date Due 








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